Practice has begun for Bassmaster Elite Series pros on Lake Chickamauga for what will be their third straight week of tournament fishing. The fall transition has lakes across the country fishing tough right now and early reports sound as though it’ll be another grinder of a derby on The Chick.
Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester said his first day of practice didn’t give him much to smile about in terms of fish catching, but the even-keeled Tennessee native wasn’t shaken. He knows it’s all part of the process.
As backward as it may sound, Lester believes a slow day of practice could be the key to a successful tournament. For every potential area he eliminates from his game plan gets him one step closer to dialing in for day one of competition.
“Eliminating water is always an important part of practice but even more on a lake like Chickamauga,” Lester explained. “There are tons of quality fish in here, but there is just so much dead water this time of year. Learning where not to spend your time is just as important as getting bites.”
Of the areas Lester visited during his first day of practice, he suspects 70% of it can be removed from his tournament plan completely, with 30% of what he saw having potential when it comes time for game day.
Sections of the lake aren’t the only thing Lester looks to eliminate, he’s also trying to hone in on what lures and techniques he needs to spend the lion share of his time throwing. Ruling out certain presentations is an important part of that equation.
“Every rod I can take off the front deck and put back in the rod locker makes me smile,” Lester joked. “I had over 15 rods out all day, hopefully I can narrow that down a bit tomorrow.”
Elite Series pros have two more full days of practice until competition begins Friday morning for the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite on Lake Chickamauga. Lester intends to spend that time covering as much water as possible; looking for bass-shaped needles in the proverbial haystack this fishery makes up.
“From my house here to Dayton is a ~150 mile drive my Tundra,” Lester said. “I promise you I’ll cover more miles in my Phoenix throughout practice. I don’t want to spread myself too thin, but the winning fish could come from anywhere this week, and I’d love to find them.”