Big Bass Expected at Chickamauga

Published on 05-09-2024

By Pete Robbins

Recent Big Bass Tour events on Lake Chickamauga have returned to form, as last year not one but two 10-pounders were weighed. The previous two years were strong showings – 9.76 and 9.21 took top honors – but it’s double digits that truly ignite the crowd and the anglers’ spirits.

In both 2020 and 2018, there were three bass weighed in over 10, underscoring the thrilling strategic decisions of when to bring the bass to the scales. It’s an exhilarating challenge to catch a fish of a lifetime, an 8- or 9-pounder, and then witness it surpassed, heightening the competitive excitement not just over the weekend, but within a single day or hour.

Local tournament pro Casey Majni says that the lake is in peak form, with lots of big largemouths hitting the scales in local tournaments. Despite an atypical year with the spawn arriving later, Majni remains upbeat. Although the lake is expected to receive a significant amount of rain before the event starts, he doesn’t anticipate it will muddy the waters too severely. “It won’t turn it into chocolate milk like in the winter, but it might mix things up a bit. This could generate some current, shift the dynamics, or possibly even spark a feeding frenzy,” Majni explained.

He plans to focus shallow, and regardless of the water color, he feels confident flipping a ½ ounce black and blue Berkley Flipping Jig with a matching Creature Hawg to shallow stumps in key bedding coves. Even after the spawn, many bass are likely still nearby. He also keeps a wacky rigged Berkley General on hand for more cautious bass.

Majni also suggests the possibility of a shad spawn happening, and while a Berkley swim jig or spinnerbait are excellent for targeting bass gorging on shad, he believes the best strategy for upgrades is to “throw a 9-inch Berkley Nessie all day.” His preferred colors are solid white or the more ultra-natural Hickory Shad pattern. A Cull Shad in those same colors is also a good indicator of the larger fish’s mood.

The shad spawn can occur on any hard surface, notably concrete and riprap, and one place he likes to target is on the wing walls of the Chickamauga Dam, particularly with the larger swimbaits to selectively target the more rewarding catches.

His favorite area stretches from Harrison Bay to Dayton, which is a broad expanse teeming with big bass, providing ample room for anglers to explore and compete.

For competitors who prefer a deeper bite, he assures that some early spawners have already moved to the 10 to 15-foot range. If chasing this deeper bite, he’d suggest running points with a Berkley Dime 10. “I can get it down to 12 or 14 feet with a long cast and cover a lot of water,” he noted.

The key in this one is to maintain enthusiasm and determination if you’re chasing the grand prize. Double digits are plentiful here, and this is one of the best times of year to catch them in multiple ways.