Andy Morgan Says Look Offshore for Chickamauga Giants

Sunday, May 5, 2019

You could make a convincing case that no one’s word means more on Lake Chickamauga than Andy Morgan’s. Not only is he one of the greatest tour level anglers of all time, but he also lives in Dayton, just a cast away from the lake’s fertile waters.

Furthermore, he handily won the Bass Pro Tour event on the big TVA impoundment last month – but if you’re looking to that win as a blueprint of how to claim victory in the upcoming Big Bass Tour event (May 17-19), he said you’re likely to be disappointed.

“That’s done,” he said plainly. He used a Strike King Red Eye Shad, Thunder Cricket vibrating jig, and a soft plastic craw in an area he calls “Bus Slough,” and in the Championship Round his closest competitor was still almost 20 pounds back. You can try to replicate that, but he thinks it would be a waste of time.

“If I was looking for one fish, I’d go out on the ledges and fish deep,” he explained. Deep might mean a place where the water drops abruptly from 20 feet into a channel that’s 35 feet, and he wouldn’t necessarily rule out quick drops from 5 to 10. “There’s no magic depth, it just has to be someplace where the water drops into the river channel.”

He lives on the north end of the lake, but said that the southern portion is where he’d focus his efforts for a single big bite. It just seems to producer more true giants. That’s where he caught a 13 pounder early last year, and while he estimated that he’s caught four to six double digit bass on Chickamauga over the years, and most were “years ago,” he habitually rakes in “a ton of 7- to 9-pounders, and the south end is the deal.”

He’d focus his prefishing efforts, and portions of the tournament days, looking for baitfish. Wherever he finds masses of them on the ledges he’d expect to find the post-spawn bass nearby. Befitting his straightforward nature, he’d rely on proven TVA ledge techniques – including a big worm, a Sexy Spoon, a big jig and a big swimbait – but the one he’d lean on most heavily is a deep-diving crankbait. He’d have a Strike King 6XD and 10XD on the deck at all times, using whichever one the depth and bait size dictated. His first color choice would likely be a Citrus Shad pattern or something similar. If that’s not your strong suit, Morgan said you could also look for isolated grass patches, but he doesn’t think that’s the best possible way to catch a giant.

That’s critical, because you’re going to need giants to make a dent in the leaderboard. Last year an incredible three bass over 10 pounds were weighed in during the BBT event here in May, along with three more over 9 pounds. The smallest fish to crack the overall top 10 weighed 8.52 pounds. Only two hourly leaders failed to push the scales past 8 pounds, and they weighed 6.90 and 7.03 pounds, respectively, so while smaller fish may claim some money, they’re unlikely to contend for top honors. Be sure to pay attention to the live leaderboard so that you don’t “waste” a precious 8- or 9-pounder during an hour when someone has already brought something bigger to the scales.

Time management will be critical, as anglers will be forced to choose whether to “camp” on big accumulations of bait in the hope that the bass will fire at some point, as opposed to running from school to school looking for something that’s already on but not occupied by other anglers.

No matter what, don’t despair if you don’t dial things in right off the bat. Morgan expects the fishing – especially for Chickamauga’s biggest fish – to get better as the day goes on.

“Current always helps because it helps position the bait on the ledge,” he concluded. “That means a lot of times the afternoons are typically better.”