Craig Lamb writes on the tournament’s website:
“YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Duplicate a rotation of tactics, lures and locations that put bass in the livewell and you have a pattern. Whoever scores with the best pattern this week will win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Chatuge.
There is a hitch. Before the winner patterned the bass, he will likely have patterned the bait. The old adage “find the bait, find the bass” rings more true here than most tournament fisheries.
Bass are so adaptive to a given lake environment they will favor whatever forage is most plentiful and easy to prey upon. The prolific and fast-growing blueback herring fit the bill on many lakes, including Chatuge.
Throughout the 7,500 acres of the north Georgia impoundment is an overabundance of the landlocked saltwater baitfish. By their open-water, nomadic nature they stay on the move. Coincidentally so do their primary predator. That is the spotted bass, also an open-water species that spends a lot of time searching for their favorite source of food.
Committing to fishing specific spots is risky business on a herring-dominated bass lake. Keeping up with blueback herring movements is the wiser approach. And that is the hitch. Pattern the herring and you will likely pattern the bass.
“When they are not spawning blueback herring are deeper than most baitfish, and they roam even more,” said Davy Hite, a native South Carolinian and analyst for Bassmaster LIVE. “That makes them tough to find, and keep up with, but that can be your only choice when the bass are in a feeding mode.”