Top 150 Solo Rayburn and Chickamauga June 17-18

ATHENS, Ala. – Both divisions in the American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, will hold events Friday and Saturday, June 17-18-2022. The Southeast Division will be competing on Lake Chickamauga, Tenn, while the Southwest Division will be competing on Lake Sam Rayburn near Zavalla, Texas. 

Southeast Division 

The Lake Chickamauga event runs out of Chester Frost Park, located at 2277 Gold Point Circle N in Hixson, Tenn. To register for this tournament, CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Named for the Chickamauga Cherokees who used to live in the area, the lake snakes for about 60 miles along the Tennessee River between the Watts Bar Dam and the Chickamauga Dam. The lake covers 36,240 acres and offers anglers 810 shoreline miles. Chickamauga Creek, the Hiwassee River and several other tributaries feed into the system.

The Tennessee River impoundment dates to 1940, but became a national hotspot for big bass in the past 20 years. The state of Tennessee began stocking Florida largemouths into the impoundment in 2000. Since then, the lake produced many bass in the 10- to 14-pound range with at least one breaking 15 pounds. The lake also holds some big spotted bass and giant smallmouth. On any cast, Lake Chickamauga could produce a new Tennessee state record for any of those species.

The impoundment drops to about 72 feet deep in places. When fish become too pressured or summer temperatures too high, bass often drop into the depths. With modern Garmin electronics, anglers can discover deep creek channels, ledges, brush piles and many other bottom contours or cover that might hold big bass in the summer. Some better deep techniques include drop-shot rigs, jigging spoons, swim jigs, swimbaits, shaky heads, football jigs and magnum Texas-rigged worms. Also try dragging a Carolina rig tipped with a creature bait 

Not all fish like to stay in the depths. Lake Chickamauga also offers abundant shallow cover, great places for running a spinnerbait or ChatterBait. Anglers might find some topwater or square-bill crankbait action in the morning. Bass also like to seek cooling shelter under docks on a hot day. Try fishing in the area around Harrison Bay.

During a Top 150 Solo event held June 25-26, 2021, on Lake Chickamauga near Dayton, Tenn., Kacy L. Mims from Randolph, Ala. won with 10 bass weighing 45.17 pounds, topped by a 7.90-pounder for a 4.52-pound average.

“I was fishing the mid-lake area around submerged hydrilla in water about six to eight feet deep,” Mims said. “I was slow dragging a Texas-style Senko in green pumpkin with a watermelon stripe. On the final day, I caught that big bass in the same spot where I caught a 7.84-pounder the day before. I caught two 6-pounders on consecutive casts before 8:30 a.m.”

Jeff Knight of Cleveland, Tenn. placed third with 10 bass and 43.30 pounds. However, that bag included a 9.90-pounder that took the tournament lunker title.

“A 7:15 a.m. on the first morning, I pulled up to a hump that I had found in a previous tournament and immediately caught a 2-pounder,” Knight recalled. “A couple casts later, I caught the tournament lunker. On my next cast, I caught a 6.5-pounder and had a limit by 7:30 a.m. I caught all my bass by fishing ledges with a 3/4-ounce football jig. I lost about an 8-pounder on a worm the final day.”

That event produced at least three bass exceeding nine pounds. Other good lures in that tournament included deep-diving crankbaits, Ned rigs, football jigs, Texas-rigged worms, topwaters, 1/2-ounce jigs and stickbaits, 

For tournament-related information on the Lake Chickamauga event, call Floyd Vaughn at (256) 230-5633. 

Southwest Division 

The Lake Sam Rayburn event launches from Cassel Boykin Park Landing near Zavalla, Texas. To register for this tournament, CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Locals call the reservoir “Big Sam” for its size, but anglers could call it the same thing for the size of the largemouth bass it produces. “Big Sam” regularly delivers many bass in the 4- to 8-pound range with some in the 10- to 12-pound range each year. Tommy Shelton set the lake record on May 31, 1997, at 16.80 pounds. He caught it on a 3/4-ounce chartreuse and white-soft plastic bait. 

The massive reservoir produced at least two 13-pounders in 2021. In January 2021, Derek Mundy caught a largemouth weighing 13 pounds, 10 ounces in a tournament. That same month, Travis Moore caught a 13.44-pounder while fishing a Carolina rig during another tournament.

The lake can also produce great catches of spotted bass. In February 1987, Curt E. Smith set the lake record for spots at 5.50 pounds, just shy of the Texas state record for the species.

The largest lake entirely within Texas runs approximately 79 miles along the Angelina River through the East Texas piney woods just north of Jasper. The giant reservoir covers 114,500 acres and dates to 1965. It offers anglers more than 750 shoreline miles and drops to more than 80 feet deep in places.

Created in the East Texas flatlands, the lake bottom doesn’t change drastically. However, several old creek channels, now inundated by the reservoir, remain where they once flowed through piney woods. These channels create humps and drops where anglers can work Texas-rigged worms, football-head jigs, heavy spinnerbaits, swimbaits or ChatterBaits. As the temperature warms, try dragging a Carolina rig tipped with a creature bait along the bottom of deeper creeks or work the drop-off edges with crankbaits. Anglers might also spot some schooling activity in the major creek channels. 

Large patches of matted vegetation mark much of the reservoir. Usually, aquatic grass grows out to about 10 to 12 feet deep. Many anglers run buzz frogs or other soft plastics across the weed mats. Anglers also bunch through the grass with heavy jigs for big bites. Along the banks, anglers also fish submerged brush or run white and chartreuse spinnerbaits through the cover. 

During a Top 150 Solo Series tournament on Big Sam in late March 2021, Zach A. Clark from Center, Texas, won with a perfect 10-bass two-day tournament limit weighing 40.37 pounds for a 4.04-pound average. He led wire-to-wire, catching five bass going 21.33 pounds on Day 1 and 19.04 pounds the second day.

“I fished some shallow grass in the mid-lake area,” Clark advised. “On both days, I threw a swimbait and a Chatterbait with a V&M Thunder Shad on the back of it. I just seemed to catch the right ones and was able to cull up each day for the win.”

Fishing at the south end of the lake, Cole B. Moore of Anacoco, La., landed the tournament lunker at 8.98 pounds. He caught the big one by fishing a jerkbait around hydrilla beds in about 10 feet of water. Other hot baits in that tournament included shaky heads, wacky-rigged Senkos in green pumpkin and ChatterBaits. 

More recently, Michael T. Driscoll from Jasper won the Boater Division in an ABA Open Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, South Texas Division 10 tournament, held May 7, 2022. Driscoll finished with five bass weighing 22.86 pounds for a 4.57-pound average. He upped his average by catching the tournament lunker, a 6.62-pounder.

“The fish were out deep, about 15 to 30 feet,” Driscoll described. “The bass were around wood and brush in the deeper water. The Garmin LiveScope was absolutely the key because we could see which piles were active with bass and which were not. The fish were suspended on top of the brush piles. I stuck with a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm in redbug color. With that Garmin LiveScope, we can run and gun and see where we need to fish and where we don’t.”

In the Co-Angler Division, Mark C. Lanham of Lufkin, Texas, brought in three bass for 13.04 pounds. He capped his catch with a 5.20-pound kicker. That gave him a 4.35-pound average.

“I was extremely lucky,” Lanham stated. “In the last 20 minutes of that tournament, I culled everything I had in the boat. I maybe had seven pounds when I started culling. I was throwing a small Texas-rigged trick worm in about 10 to 12 feet of water.”

Pam S. Holwerda from Killeen finished fourth among the co-anglers, with three bass at 9.94 pounds, but landed the division big bass at 5.49 pounds. Other hot baits from that May 2022 tournament included Texas-rigged 10-inch worms, deep-running crankbaits, weightless Senkos, shaky heads, swim jigs and frogs.

For tournament-related information on the Rayburn event, call Chris Wayand at (256) 230-5627. 

To fish the two divisions in the ABA Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, each angler pays $600 to enter each tournament and everyone fishes alone both days. No more than 150 anglers can participate in any divisional event. If 150 anglers participate, the winner will take home a guaranteed $20,000. If fewer competitors register, the top 20 percent of the field will each earn a portion of the prize money, based upon the number of entries.

Anglers could also qualify for one of two post-season tournaments. The top 15 points holders in each division at the end of the regular season qualify to fish the inaugural ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship, providing they fished all three of their divisional events. 

The first ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship will be held on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn. in October 2022. Conducted like the divisional events, the Tour Championship will involve two days of intense competition with the winner taking home $25,000. In addition, every angler in the field will receive a payout. 

Moreover, anglers who did not qualify by points for the Tour Championship, but who fished all three of the qualifiers in their division will be invited to a two-day wild card event, slated for Ross Barnett Reservoir in Mississippi on Sept. 9-10, 2022. From this wild card tournament, the top five anglers will also advance to the ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship. Qualifying through their divisions by points and additionally, from the wild card, the Tour Championship field will total 35 anglers. 

Also, the top five anglers by points from each division after the Tour Championship can advance to the 2023 Ray Scott Championship, scheduled for April 2023 on the Red River in Shreveport, La.

American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, T-H Marine, Garmin Electronics, Power Pole, Lucas Oil, RT Outdoors, Sportsman Card, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.

About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. 

For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406

This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email info@americanbassanglers.com.

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© 2018 American Bass Anglers MBAA Since 1975 - All Rights Reserved American Bass Anglers, Inc Logos and other data within this website is the property of American Bass Anglers, Inc and may not be copied or reproduced without express permission of American Bass Anglers, Inc. American Bass Anglers, Inc PO Box 475 Athens, AL 35612 email: call us 256-232-0406. This web site is provided by ABA and resides on a server with 99.99% up time.