Majni Says Bass in Several Different Stages at Chickamauga

Published on 05-10-2023

By Pete Robbins
Here’s the bottom line for the mid-May Big Bass Tour at Lake Chickamauga – don’t expect to win it all with a bass in the 7-pound range.
A bass that size might earn an hourly check, even a good one, but it’s not going to take all the marbles. The question is how much bigger you’ll have to go to earn the top prize. It’s been three years since we’ve seen a 10-pounder at the “Chick,” but in both 2018 and 2020 there were three of them brought to the scales, so not even double digit fish are unthreatened. This is one event where you’ll want to bring your “A” game. It’ll take a minimum of 7-plus pounds to sneak into the top ten, and the top five are almost always at least 8 pounds. Some years, like 2018 through 2020, it takes a 9-pound beast just to crack the top five.
Local pro Casey Majni said that it’s “been such a weird year,” with up and down swings in the weather patterns, but that can be a feature, not a bug. There will be more fish on more different patterns, making Chickamauga fish much bigger than its 21,000 acres.
“I would honestly look for a big one on the bed, especially if we get some sun,” he explained. “The big first wave is already done, but another wave is coming up, and I’m sure there will be at least an 8 in it, possibly a 10.”
He’d focus on the backs of main lake pockets and in the far ends of major creeks, trying to find water that’s clear enough to make out the bedding fish, but with enough tinge to make them less spooky. 
“If I couldn’t see them, I’d throw a black and blue Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Creature Hawg to where I think the bed might be,” he said. “If I can see them I’d use that Shape 108 craw. I’d start off by pestering them with a natural color like Green Pumpkin, then switch to white and keep going until the ate it.”
If that pattern’s not to your liking, or conditions don’t allow it to work, he said that there will also be a shad spawn going on.
“I love looking for it around the face of the dams, riprap and the locks,” he said. “And also on trees right off the main channel. It’s a little bit different every year, but as a rule I tend to prefer the riprap because it’s all open in front. You don’t have to worry about getting your baits inside the trees.” He’d use various moving baits to exploit this opportunity, including a shad-colored Berkley Swim Jig with a matching Powerbait Crash Craw, and also a spinnerbait, especially if there’s a bit of wind. He’s been whacking fish on early iterations of the new Berkley Cull Shad swimbait and also the Berkley Stunna jerkbait. Those multiple hooks keep slashing fish pinned up.
If the water dirties up due to rain or inflow, he’d put a jig or the Creature Hawg in his hand, attached to a 5/16 to ½ ounce weight, and pitch to every submerged stumps he could barely see. Sometimes, stealth is the best way to catch a big girl who’s just moved up, or one who’s hanging around before heading off to her summer haunts.
This tournament, as always, promises to be a slugfest, and it’ll take a stout fish to even claim hourly money, which makes strategy all that much more important. Pay attention to the live leaderboard, and since this is a comparatively small venue, be judicious about when you make the run in to weigh your prized Chickamauga bass.