Shryock Says Deep and Shallow Will Both Play at Chickamauga

Published on 05-10-2021

Shryock Says Deep and Shallow Will Both Play at Chickamauga

By Pete Robbins

The fish on legendary TVA bass factory Lake Chickamauga are generally mostly done with the spawn by this time of year, but while many have completed the task others are still beginning. That means that the upcoming Big Bass Tour event will provide an opportunity for just about anyone to win, said Berkley pro Hunter Shryock.

“I was out there the other day and I graphed a school of 20 fish out in 18 feet of water,” he said. “They could have been coming or going. They never all spawn at once, and there should still be some filtering in by the time of the tournament, especially if the water comes up. It’s still about a foot low.”

He said that the lake is full of big fish, and they’re susceptible to a number of varied presentations, but heavy fishing pressure makes them highly educated. Accordingly, he’d rely on Berkley Maxscent soft plastics like The General and a big ribbontail worm like the Berkley Kingtail.

“Everybody knows about Maxscent for smallmouths, but for some reason it doesn’t have the same recognition for largemouths, and believe me, there are times when it makes a huge difference,” he explained. His favorite color is some form of green pumpkin, followed by black and blue, but he also noted that there are times when various forms of red outperform everything else on the Tennessee River chain. Accordingly, he’d stock up on Cherryseed and Red Shad Green Glitter as well.

He’d try to use the pressure to his advantage. While the lower end of the lake is noted for kicking out numbers of enormous bass, he said that the potential winning fish could be anywhere from top to bottom. It might be better to find something a little bit off-the-wall  and out of the way and have it all to yourself than to play bumper boats with a large portion of the rest of the field.

Soft plastics aren’t the only lures he’d have ready to go. He noted that big bass love topwaters, and covering water with a Choppo or running a Cane Walker over submerged grass could be deadly. Furthermore, he’d look for a shad spawn in the first hour of each day – targeting hard cover – and try the ultra-hot Frittside crankbait to tempt a bass that’s gorging on spawning baitfish. That opportunity may not last long, but it could produce an early champion or at least an hourly winner. He also believes that there will be some fish that are already out on offshore structure, where the realistic Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait could be the ticket to success.

This is not an event where small fish are likely to get the job done. In each of the past three years, it has taken at least an eight and a half pound bass to squeeze into the overall top ten. In both 2018 and 2020, there were a remarkable three largemouths over 10 pounds brought to the scales. It might not have been quite as good in 2019, but it still took a stout fish to compete – there was a 10-pounder along with four more over 9 in contention for the top prize. Nevertheless, it is possible to win hourly checks with smaller fish, and savvy anglers who pay attention to the live leaderboard and time their runs back to the scales can capitalize even without a true monster.

To make it to the top spot each hour, though, you’ll likely need a 7 or better. The good news is that there are various ways to accomplish that task.