Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fish as a co-angler in the last FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee last weekend. This was a great opportunity to fish with the pros and get a taste of what tournaments will be like once I move beyond college fishing tournaments.
On the first day of prefishing I fished with Gussy. We fished a lot of different areas and tried a lot of techniques. We were able to catch some small fish around laydowns and a few keepers in the grass, but once we moved out a little deeper we caught better fish. In a few spots, where we marked fish, we were able to catch a few on drop shots. While fishing a point where we had graphed fish, out of nowhere a school of giant bass started busting shad on the surface. We turned the trolling motor on high and hustled over there. I threw in a big topwater bait and had one smack it away, then Gussy threw in a big fluke and caught at least a six-pounder.
During the following two days of practice I was able to fish with Terry Bolton. He is an awesome ledge fisherman and I knew I was going to learn a lot. During our two days of practice together we did a lot of idling and scanned a bunch of ledges. If we didn’t graph fish we went to the next ledge. There are a lot of ledges to look at so it took up a lot of time. There were some key features we were looking for: old creek channels, rocks or shells, points or anything different that helped narrow down our search. The key lures we used were football head jigs and big 10-inch worms on the VMC rugby jig. We also threw deep diving crankbaits like a DT-20—which caught fish—but the slower presentations on the bottom produced bigger fish. Towards the end of the day, we decided to try something different and hit a point with shallow grass and a few brush piles. On my second cast with a size 7 Rippin’ Rap, I caught a chunky five-pounder. We also caught a few nice fish out of the brush piles.
For the first day of the tournament I was paired with Dale Hightower. In the morning , we fished a rocky bank and jetty that had some grass. Then later in the day, we flipped some laydowns and docks. It was tough to fish the rock bank and jetty from the back of the boat because we were paralleling the bank so it made it difficult to cast. However, I was able to catch two keepers off of the front face of the rock jetty. There was a little hole that I slow rolled the Rippin Rap through—keeping it a little bit above the bottom.
The second day I fished with Rodney Thomason and had a ton of fun. He didn’t want to battle people for spots on ledges so he had found some grass that had grown to the surface and some lily pads. I had not seen lily pads or grass that tall all week, so I was excited to try something new. I caught some small fish on a Trigger X Flutter Worm and he caught a few on a frog but we couldn’t connect with any keepers. Rodney had at least one monster bass blow up on a frog, but it just pushed it away and didn’t eat it.
I picked up a few lessons as a co-angler in this tournament. Both boaters I fished with did not want to be fighting for a spot on the ledges and fishing right next to other competitors. Because of this, they taught me that there are still fish to be caught shallow—even when everyone else is deep. It is tough to be a co-angler in these events, because it is totally dependent on your draw and if you are put around fish, but it was a great learning experience and I hope I will be able to fish a few more events next year!
Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).