Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FLW Tour on Lake Chickamauga: Key Concepts

How they Stayed Alive on Chichamauga
By Luigi De Rose

Clifford working the posts. I guess he didn't see the sign.
(Photo: Rob Newell FLW)
Lake Chichamauga last week was a lake in transition. Water levels were fairly high during the practice period. Into the first two days of the tournament, the lake's water levels slowly dropped . On Friday afternoon, the sky opened and the rains came.  The intensity was so sever that the TVA, the authority who controls water levels on the lake, opened the dam to release the excess water. 

During the beginning of the week, anglers discovered bass in partially flooded shoreline cover. Other sections of the lake held spawning bass on beds. As the water dropped, to the utter shock of FLW Touring Pros, much of the productive cover what now out of the water and bass beds were left high and dry.

Once the dam gate closed, especially on Saturday and into Sunday the final day, the water levels began to climb. Unfortunately the new water was cold and muddy; erasing any chances to find bedding bass again. Many of the top anglers, including eventual winner Clifford Pirch and second place Shinichi Fukae, felt their sight fishing strategy was sunk.

Shinichi Fukae explained during a few different interviews that his primary area had become muddy and difficult to fish. Clifford Pirch used his skill to seek out the clearest water he could. He found it behind large marina complexes. The riprap, walkways, docks and any vertical cover he discovered would eventually yield enough bass to hold off for the win.

Clifford determined the marina was best because the area was not fed by a creek. Coves and bays which had a creek in the back instantly turned to chocolate milk with the heavy down pours. If spawning bass were present, anglers couldn't find them.

Scott flipping his way to 4th.
(Photo: Rob Newell FLW)

One angler who adopted to the dramatic changes extremely well was Scott Canterbury of Springville AL. He targeted trees. As the water flooded these fallen trees, the bass moved in and Scott was right behind them. He sacked of 19-09 which turned out to be the heaviest creel on Day 4. Everyone except him and Tom Monsoon  had poorer success on Sunday.

The lesson learnt on Lake Chickamauga is to practice with the intention of change. Anglers who stuck to steep bank and kept an eye on what could be good suffered the least and the one who banked on slow tapering shorelines watched in horror as their bass and luck got sucked out.

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