If you follow Cole Sands on Facebook or Instagram, you know that he and big Lake Chickamauga bass go hand-in-hand, just like the Witch Doctor and his attention to detail on every rod he builds.
This past weekend Cole Sands and Bryan College tournament partner, Nathan Bell won the FLW College Southeastern Regional on non other than Lake Chickamauga!
Flash back six months, when the schedule announced Lake Chickamauga would be the site of this event. “Nathan and I got excited, we thought we would be able to blast them offshore ledge fishing,” stated Cole. “However, with the elongated winter we had, the fish were just not out there yet.”
Starting April 30, Cole and Nathan split up the lake to cover as much water as they could for practice. “We quickly came to the realization that this tournament was not going to be won deep. As a result, we decided to put all of our eggs into the shallow fishing basket.”
Practice for the duo was a good one, they had over 20 pounds every day and some days 30 plus pounds! “We found lots of giant cruising fish, and tons of solid fish on beds. On top of that we found a pretty solid 15 pound bag shad spawn bite.”
The key practice day for them was on Thursday when they went out and marked where all the beds were, so they knew exactly where to cast without getting on top of the fish.
Here is Cole’s break down of tournament day…
The tournament starts and we immediately run to catch a quick limit on our shad spawn bite, but for whatever reason the shad didn’t spawn Saturday and we abandoned that bite after about 30 minutes and no fish. After a run down the lake to a spot where there were 3-10 pound bass everywhere during practice, we set up on a 3.5 pound bass on a bed. My first cast with my Shaman 6’10” MH Spinning Rod and a 1/16 oz shakey head, I set the hook and lost the fish halfway back to the boat. The fish slowly re-positioned back into its bed, and I picked up my Voodoo II 7’6″ H Casting Rod with a Texas rigged Berkley Havoc Pit Boss. After working the fish for about another 30 minutes, she bit and I got her in the boat. We then fished the rest of the area to discover all the fish had left.
We decided to run down river to the Chester Frost area of the lake around 10:30 and we only have one fish in the boat, not exactly what we had planned on. We pull into a little pocket where there was a ton of solid fish in practice and within 30 minutes we fill out a solid limit for about 15 pounds with a shakey head and Pit Boss. We then see a 5 plus pound fish on bed and set up on her. After working her for about 30 minutes she finally bites and we break her off on the hook set. Luckily she was still locked down, and after about another 20 minutes she bit again and we landed her!
It is now around noon and we have around 19 pounds and decide to go a little further south into a creek that we marked some big ones on beds, on Thursday. We slowly approach the bedding area and begin making long casts, my partner sets the hook and we catch a 4 pounder which gets rid of a 3 pounder. We carefully are looking around and see a 5 pounder that was glued on bed. After flipping my Pit Boss on her for about five minutes I get her to bite and put her in the boat. We now have a solid 21 plus pound limit and thought there was a slight chance of winning.
We hit a couple more spots before coming in, but we were not able to make any additional upgrades. Since we were first flight we weighed in at 2:45 with 21 pounds and 9 ounces, then began the waiting process for the for the rest of the 140 boat field to weigh in…we were able to squeak out the victory by a mere 2 ounces!
Without a doubt there is no way I could have gotten this bass in the boat if it wasn’t for my Shaman Spinning Rod and Voodoo II casting rod.