Big Bass Tour Expands its Horizons in 2023
Published on 11-28-2022
Woodlands, Texas – One goal of the Big Bass Tour is to never rest on our laurels, or in any way remain stagnant, and the expanded 2023 schedule reflects that total level of commitment. All of the longtime favorite venues remain on tap, at the times when they’re likely to show up best, and that murderer’s row of fisheries has been supplemented by a new northern swing: For the first time, we’ll visit New York and Wisconsin, to hit the prolific St. Lawrence River as well as the Upper Mississippi, respectively. If that wasn’t enough, for the first time in its history, the Tour will host four-day mega tournaments at Conroe and Guntersville respectively.
Here's the tale of the tape:
Feb 10-12 | Harris Chain of Lakes, Florida
Florida in February has become a BBT tradition, and with good reason: It’s when the giants show up in the shallows at the heaviest weights they’ll be all year. But the Harris Chain isn’t just any Florida fishery – it offers a wealth of different habitats, and there’s great strategy involved in navigating the chain and employing different techniques. This is one where a double digit isn’t guaranteed to win the top prize.
March 2-5 | Lake Conroe, Texas (4 Day Event for 25th Anniversary, 4 day entry will be $325)
The Big Bass Tour was founded on the back of the Lake Conroe Big Bass Classic and in 2023, will celebrate the 25th annual event with a four-day mega tournament. Highly-developed Lake Conroe may be the best urban bass fishery in the country. It’s just a short drive north of Houston, yet it pumps out giants year after year after year. The other major circuits know it, and have scheduled major events here, but while it’s a popular playground in the summer, at this time of year it’ll swallow up boats and lend itself to various strategies.
March 10-12 | Clarks Hill, Georgia
Located just a stone’s throw from Augusta, Clarks Hill is a textbook fishery, brimming with endless points for anglers to ply and long stretches of river to spread out. While it may not produce a 10-pounder, expect lots of comparably-sized football-shaped bass to hit the scales.
March 24-26 | Lake Norman, North Carolina
Norman is chock full of docks, and that’s always a leading pattern as well as a fallback. The occasional giant largemouth makes a showing, but the increasing population of ever-growing spotted bass should grab some hourly checks.
March 31-April 2 | Lake Eufaula, Alabama
South Alabama in March is a recipe for giant bass moving shallow, and while it may not have the reputation of some of the fisheries of Texas or Florida, rest assured that 10 pound potential exists in every corner of this stories lake from bass fishing history.
April 14-16 | Table Rock Lake, Missouri
Table Rock presents a three-species opportunity – smallmouths and spots will likely earn some of the hourly checks, but expect a big largemouth to take top honors. This is another venue that fishes exceptionally large, and allows skilled anglers to pattern fish among the beauty of the Ozarks.
April 28-30 | Lake Murray, South Carolina
Back to South Carolina, and back to another fishery in the shadows of a big city, in this case Columbia. Murray also has a storied history on the major bass trails, and while the 10-pounders may not show up with regularity, it’s loaded with 6-, 7- and 8-pound studs that make hourly checks and the overall top prize highly competitive.
May 5-7 | Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia (Spring)
The Blue Ridge mountains in the spring are a sight to behold, and Smith Mountain’s clear lower end and two river arms provide anglers with a wide range of habitat for corralling both largemouths and smallmouths. The spawn should be partially over, and everything from a jig to a shakey head or a swimbait could place the winner in his or her prize boat.
May 19-21 | Lake Chickamauga, Tennessee
The first stop on the Tennessee River Chain of lakes couldn’t come at a better time or on a better place than Chickamauga, the grass-filled fishery that has produced 50 pound limits and more 10 pounders over the past decade per acre than just about anywhere on earth. The bass could still be shallow, but many will be headed to their summer haunts.
July 28-30 | St. Lawrence River, New York
It took over a hundred pounds of smallmouths to win a four day tournament on the St. Lawrence last summer, and even the second place finisher was in triple digits. That necessitated our visit, and while we fully expect that a smallmouth will win, the sheer number of 5- and 6-pounders – plus the vast expanses of water available to competitors – will likely take this one down to the wire.
August 4-6 | Upper Mississippi, Wisconsin (LaCrosse)
Our first visit to the Upper Midwest will be held on one of the nation’s most renowned tournament venues, a place where either a largemouth or a smallmouth could claim top honors, and plenty of 3- and 4-pound specimens of both will be caught doing everything from frogging to flipping to cranking to dropshotting.
Sept 29-Oct 1 | Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia (Fall)
Virginia is too pretty and too prolific to only visit once. Four months after our first stop we’ll return, and many of the same places and techniques will still be in play, but as summer turns to fall the fish put on the feed bag and all sorts of new opportunities open up.
Oct 6-8 | Douglas Lake, Tennessee
Douglas, the jewel of East Tennessee, is absolutely loaded with bass, and while some may still be holding offshore, by early October huge numbers are headed to the bank. A big topwater or even a swimbait can be competitive with finesse techniques when this bite window opens up.
Oct 12-15 | Guntersville Lake, Alabama (4 Day Event, 4 day entry will be $325)
We conclude the 2023 season with a four-day mega tournament with a return to the Tennessee River, to perhaps America’s greatest and most resilient tournament lake. Year after year, anglers fish Guntersville’s waters obsessively, and the big bass parade never seems to stop. This is where the Alabama Rig got its first major exposure, but as the fall bite heats up anglers will find multiple big fish patterns.
Registration for the 2023 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Big Bass Tour will open on Friday December 2nd at 9AM EST/8am CST. Visit www.bigbasstour.com for all details.
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2023 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Big Bass Tour Schedule
Shryock Advises Anglers to Think Outside the Box at Chickamauga