Fishing & Boating News
“There won’t be much of a hometown advantage in this tournament,” said local pro Michael Neal of Dayton, who finished in third place when the FLW Tour last competed on Chickamauga in 2012. “Last time, Andy (Morgan), Wesley (Strader) and I had a few places that we could go fish that nobody really knew about. Now we’ve been featured on the TV show and been seen by a lot of people. Chickamauga is pretty small and there are not many off-the-wall places to be found. This one is going to be anybody’s tournament.”
Neal said that the lack of current over the past few weeks has the fish suspended and scattered on the Tennessee River impoundment. With plenty of rainfall being forecast in the days leading up to the tournament, Neal predicted that the fishing would greatly improve and that by the time the tournament rolls around the lake would be close to perfect.
“I think that at least half of the top-10 finishers will be fishing the schools on the ledges,” Neal said. “One or two anglers will be fishing shallow – docks, or different structure like that. Then, one or two anglers will be fishing grass. I think the majority of the field will be fishing the deep schools out deep, though, and I’m pretty sure that is how the tournament will be won.
“The lake is going to be fishing pretty tightly,” Neal continued. “A lot of anglers will be bunched up together on the big schools. I can’t do that, and I try to avoid the crowds at all costs. Making it to the weekend cut will be the key for me, because it will open up the mega schools and there won’t be nearly as much pressure.”
Neal said that swimbaits and big football-head jigs would be key baits – he’ll have a 5½-inch Big Bite Baits BB Kicker swimbait and a few big Kustom Kicker Red Zone: Beast Mode football-head jigs tied on. He also said that Magnum Spoons, 10-inch worms, ChatterBaits and topwaters would also be very productive, along with jigs and soft plastics for the anglers who choose to flip docks.
“I think that it’ll take around 36 to 38 pounds to make the top-20 cut and fish the weekend,” Neal went on to say. “I think the winner will have a four-day total right around 85 pounds. This is going to be an awesome derby.”
In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 20-23 on Lake Ouachita and is hosted by Visit Hot Springs. The Forrest Wood Cup Champion could win as much as $500,000 – professional bass-fishing’s richest prize.
Anglers will take off from the Dayton Boat Dock located at 175 Lakeshore Street in Dayton at 6:30 a.m. EDT each day of competition. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the Dayton Boat Dock beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart, located at 3034 Rhea County Highway, in Dayton beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart in Dayton prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a Ranger boat simulator, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Pros Rich Dalbey and Todd Hollowell’s “Hooked on Helping” foundation will be hosting a food drive to benefit Recovery Dayton, sponsored by the Mountain View UM Church. FLW fans who donate five or more cans of food will be entered to win a $50 Walmart gift card.
As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will be special guests at the Chuck Copeland Memorial Kid’s Fishing Rodeo at the Spring City Veteran’s Park in Spring City, Tennessee, on Saturday, June 6 from 7 a.m. to Noon. Keystone Light pro Chad Grigsby and 2015 Lake Toho Champion J.T. Kenney will be joined by the Rhea County trio of Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Wesley Strader and Michael Neal to promote the sport of bass fishing and sign autographs for the young anglers.
Coverage of the Lake Chickamauga tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) October 26 from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. EDT when Season 20 of “FLW” returns this fall. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
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