Andy Morgan lives on a private island on Lake Chickamauga, TN. He’s so focused on fishing that all he has — besides his boat and fishing gear — is his dog Chigger and a friend he calls Wilson:
Okay, not really, but he does live right there and knows the lake. So he had a plan:
> “I wanted to stay up close to home, in the river end, if at all possible. We had just enough water — they’re bringing the water up, raising the water out of winter pool…we’re halfway to summer pool. So we had a lot of water to fish in, but not a ton and it got crowded pretty easily.”
Despite that plan, sounds like he second-guessed himself the first competition day he fished:
> “I had a pretty poor first day. I ran down-lake a ways to get started, then by the time I got back up [river], everything cleared up. Fishing pressure was an issue [he said it’s always an issue because of the Chick’s hawg rep].
> The next day he fished he “changed…started up here around home. I went to a better area early — claimed it early. [Important because “the deepest spot is 2.5′ deep so it doesn’t take much to booger that up.
> “…hard spots, mostly clay, with a little bit of rock, old stumps and some laydowns. Just points and little creek bends, dead-end pockets, old ponds that are like a foot deeper. It’s the TN river, just little backwater chutes off the river.
> “Water temp was in the 60s, and the clarity varied with the storms we had. We had some pretty big rains, pretty good wind, that varied from day to day — so water clarity was from dirty to TN green.
> “…nasty days. That was ideal. It was literally the perfect storm.
> “I knew if the conditions lined up and the forecast held true for Sunday, if that system got here and it kept the boat traffic and fishing pressure down, I thought I could win. [That day] a system came through around 745-800 — wind, rain, storms…sustained winds of 25+. Yeah, it was ideal…just makes them bite, man.
> “I was semi-protected, fishing backwaters. l didn’t have people in the way — that’s the biggest thing, fishing pressure.”
After that 2nd day adjustment, he fished the same way every day.
> 1/4-and 1/2-oz Strike King Red Eye Shad (baby carp and chart sexy shad). “…chunk and wind. 1/4-oz because it was so shallow. I’ve caught more bass on a Red Eye Shad than any lipless baits…lot of confidence in it.” 7′ M Favorite prototype cranking rod, Lew’s Reel (6.8), 14-lb Gamma fluoro.
> “The lipless was an early thing when the fish schooled up feeding in the mornings…first 1 hour of the mornings. Then it was the Thunder Cricket — my bait of choice going down stretches of bank, covering water — and flipping the Z Craw [to] anything you saw that one might be bedded beside.”
> “Definitely my Power-Poles [were important], especially when fishing around spawning fish, where you have to slow down and stop.”