IT'S THE SUPER BOWL OF FISHING
The fishing world, including a team from iBass360, is about to desend on Knoxville, TN. The Tellico and Fort Loudoun sections of the Tennessee River are ready for the rumble of 55 competitors vying for the biggest prize in fishing- the 2023 Bassmaster Classic Ray Scott Trophy. The competition runs March 24-26 with daily takeoffs from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville at 7:15 a.m. ET and weigh-ins each day at the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus. Doors open at 3:15 p.m. with weigh-in starting at approximately 4:15 p.m.
The Tournament waters include portions of the Holston and French Broad rivers, the Tennessee River headwaters; Fort Loudoun Lake, the first of nine reservoirs on the Tennessee, and Tellico Lake, which links to Fort Loudoun through a canal. The forecast calls for spring-like temperatures and the potential for rain all three days, Seasonal patterns should be ripe for an impressive show. Loudoun has plenty of good fish and although it's no Guntersville, if you could pick one week, the third week of March would be the best week of the year. The anglers are counting on it. Despite the recent cold-snap the warm spring and rain have set the stage for good conditions for a strong, shallow-water bass tournament. The bass should be committed to prespawn behavior. With temperatures expected in the 50's, it should be good for keeping fish in prespawn mode. Fort Loudoun has a lot of traditional shallow-water targets like shellbars, rocks and laydowns, Tellico is a clearer with more deep-water structure such as long points and channel banks. Prespawn tactics will include crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, bladed jigs, football jigs, Carolina rigs and Texas rigs.
One spector hovering over the field is the memory of Jeff Gustafson’s 2021 Elite Series victory on these same waters. The Canadian found a pile of big smallmouth holding over deep rocks in the canal between Fort Loudoun and Tellico and caught all of his weight with a vertically presented small jig with a baitfish body. Prior to that, Ott Defoe won his classic on these waters using crawfish colored crankbaits. The Gustafson win was about a month earlier than this Classic. Defoe's win came one week earlier.
As is typically the case when a tournament presents different choices of water, time management will factor into angler planning. Reaching Tellico requires a good run from the takeoff site and, from there, the lake’s length can burn up a lot of time. An angler's success at one lake or the other often depends on finding an anchor area and if they did not establish that in practice, it could impact on their fishing time.
Consistency is often a winning factor, without it, success will likely be elusive.
Bassmaster LIVE kicks off tournament coverage Friday morning at 8 a.m. ET on Bassmaster.com, FS1 will broadcast live with the tournament leaders on Saturday and Sunday mornings before afternoon action from Championship Sunday picks up on FOX. A full viewing schedule can be found at Bassmaster.com/how-to-watch.