Lake Chickamauga is booming with big bass.
Hixson resident Rogie Brown, a pro angler and fishing guide, and partner Tim Saylor of Morristown brought in five fish weighing 44.31 pounds last weekend in a tournament run by Michael Neal out of the Dayton Boat Dock.
That's "definitely" a lake record, according to Neal, a Walmart FLW Tour pro angler who runs the bait shop at the dock. The previous biggest five-bass bag was 37.96 pounds, set two weeks earlier.
Brown's and Saylor's nearly 9-pound average included the tournament's "big fish" weighing 10.57 pounds, and three other bass caught that day exceeded 10 pounds, with two others above eight, Neal said.
The second-place duo of Dayton's Brandon Roop and Brett Tharpe had a 34.98 total.
"The size of the bass we're seeing now really is due to three things," Neal said. "One is the introduction of Florida-strain bass into the lake, and the milder winters we've been having have allowed the bait fish not to be killed off so much, like when the water gets really cold. And the hydrilla has really been growing. Add all three of those things together and you're going to have a tremendous lake."
Hydrilla is a bane to many lakeside residents and recreational lake users, but it allows for the development of monster fish, and Neal's fellow FLW Tour pros will get to see that firsthand when they compete out of the Dayton Boat Dock in late June.
"I'm real excited about that," said Neal, who had a third-place finish on Lake Okeechobee in the big tour's first event of the year. "That's a nationally televised event, and hundreds of thousands of people will watch the weigh-ins online. It will be a big thing for our area."
The Walmart Bass Fishing League Volunteer Division will have a tournament on the lake on March 23, out of Chester Frost Park.