Douglas Presents New Conditions for BBT Hopefuls

Published on 09-26-2020

Douglas Presents New Conditions for BBT Hopefuls

By Pete Robbins

Unlike some other 2020 Big Bass Tour events, which have been moved out of their historical time slots by world events, the upcoming Douglas Lake tournament has traditionally been held in early fall. You might think that’ll allow competitors to fall back on old tactics, techniques and locations, but Ott DeFoe said he expects a totally different ballgame.

“They haven’t started pulling the lake down as hard as they usually do,” the 2019 Bassmaster Classic champion said. “It’s higher than it should be, to be honest. Probably 5 to 7 feet higher than normal for this time of year, and we’re still getting a lot of rain.”

That means that there are willow trees and buck bushes still inundated in the lower and middle sections of the lake, and up the river there is vegetation to fish. That could change in the days leading up to the tournament, but for now staying shallow remains a viable game plan.

“It has also been a cooler September than usual, which should be a signal of better fishing, at least in terms of numbers of bites,” he added.

The complication could be how much water they decide to pull and how quickly it runs out. “I would expect them to be pulling water pretty hard,” DeFoe explained. Accordingly, he’d focus on main lake points and humps that are typically affected by the current. “Not extra deep, just water with a little bit of color in the 8- to 20-foot range. For big ones it’s hard to be the Muddy Creek to Swann’s Bridge area.” Upriver from that point, there may be a wealth of 3- to 5-pound fish, many of which could claim multiple checks, but that’s also “a little further away from where you have to weigh them in.”

On the main lake structure, DeFoe would likely hit the fish with a one-two punch of a football jig and a big crankbait. While he’s looking for water with a little bit of tint to it, it wouldn’t be muddy by any means, so his crankbaits would likely be shad colors, like Helsinki Shad. His football jig and the matching trailer would either be green pumpkin or watermelon, and “some orange in it is always a good idea.”

If he were to find himself up the river, he’d shift gears to a topwater lure or a bladed jig and spend his time shallower, possibly in water as skinny as a foot or a foot and a half deep. Nevertheless, as he proved in Knoxville last year, DeFoe wants to go for the top prize. “To win the boat, and not worry about hourly checks, I would get on a rotation of places,” he explained. “I’d fish four or five spots the whole day. You might be fishing around other boats, but I’d commit.”

He explained that there will be short windows of activity, often in the early morning and then from 1pm onward, so if you don’t get a quality bite in short order it still might make sense to stay committed to your milk run. Part of the lag may be due to a generation schedule. “If they’ve not been generating, once they start it may take a couple of hours for it to affect some places down lake.”

DeFoe will not be surprised if someone brings in an 8- or even a 9-pound largemouth during the upcoming event, particularly because the fishing has been good, but typically it takes a high-five-pound class fish to squeak into the top ten at a Douglas BBT. In three of the past five years, a single 7-plus has come to the scales and claimed top honors, and only one time has a bass under 5 pounds managed to claim a position in the top 10. This is a tournament where 5-pounders are gold, and anything over 6 occasionally has the chance to be the top dog. Competitors need to closely monitor the live leaderboard to make sure that they don’t squander a giant during the wrong hour.