Douglas Lake drawdown will be a factor in Bassmaster Northern Open finale
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published August 31, 2017
Dropping water levels will make it difficult to pattern Douglas Lake bass in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open season finale.
"The lake is actually still high for this time of year," Bassmaster Elite Series pro David Mullins said of his home waters.
Mullins notes the lake has already started its drawdown for winter, which has an effect on the bass fishing.
"The bass move a lot this time of the year, especially the shallow fish," Mullins said. "So you just have to kind of go fishing each day. It's hard to be consistent.
"This is going to be a tough, grinder tournament. It is always that way in September until the water starts cooling off."
The Mt. Carmel, Tenn., angler describes the lake's water clarity as "pretty clear" with water temperatures remaining in the 80 degree range.
"It seems like every year the water gets a little bit clearer," Mullins said. "We used to catch bass a lot better in the fall than we do now because the water had some color to it, but now it is really clear."
Mullins thinks keeping an open mind will be the key to success in the Open because the competitors will have to rotate through a variety of lures and techniques to consistently catch bass.
"You will be able to fish both ways, shallow and offshore," he said. "I believe it will be won shallow, but there will be some fish caught offshore."
The lake's headwaters up the French Broad River should produce the best fishing during the Open, Mullins predicts. Fellow Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe won the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open fishing the same section of the river.
The mud flats and brushpiles along the bank in the riverine section of the lake will be key targets.
"Any cover in the water is going to have some fish on it this time of year," Mullins said. He predicted bass in the shallows will be "inches to a couple of feet" deep. The best tactics for catching river bass will be throwing buzzbaits or Zara Spooks, flipping to shallow cover or cranking squarebill crankbaits.
Offshore bass will be more difficult to pinpoint because the fish will be at depths ranging from 10 to 40 feet deep.
"You can catch them down to 40 or 50 feet sometimes," Mullins said. "The deep bite is going to be a little bit tougher because those deep fish tend to suspend a lot more this time of year. You can see the shad start to come up and get more active so there are a lot of bass that roam and suspend. The schools of bass that were out there in early summer have already broken up and are starting to roam after shad."
The best tactics for catching offshore bass at Douglas include dragging Carolina rigs or football jigs and cranking deep-diving crankbaits.
Current from the drawdown will help the fishing early in the tournament. However, dam authorities stop releasing water on the weekends, which means competitors on Championship Saturday might have to change their strategies.
"If the fish are relating to current and you get that good bite on Thursday and Friday, when Saturday rolls around it will be totally different," Mullins said.
Fishing pressure will also play a factor in the Open because many competitors will likely be sharing the same spots.
"There is a big population of bass in the lake, but there are only certain sections that have a lot of fish," Mullins said.
He predicts the winning weight for this Open will be 45 pounds, and it will take 26 to 27 pounds to make the Top 12 cut.
A berth for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Elite Series invitations for the Top 5 finishers in the Northern Open point standings are at stake in this season finale. Currently holding the Top 5 spots in the point standings are Wesley Strader, JT Kenney, Frank Poirier, Chad Pipkens and Shin Fukae.
The winning pro angler will receive a Triton 19 TrX powered by a Mercury 200 Pro XS. The co-angler will win a Nitro Z18 and Mercury 150 Pro XS.
Takeoff will begin each day at 7 a.m. ET from the Dandridge Public Boat Dock, 100 Public Drive in Dandridge, Tenn. Weigh-ins the first two days will begin at 3 p.m. back at the park.
Spectators on Thursday and Friday for takeoffs and weigh-ins will need to take a shuttle from First Baptist Church, 951 TN 92 S in Dandridge, Tenn. Morning shuttles will run 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and afternoon shuttles will run 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The final weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m. at the nearby Bass Pro Shops, 3629 Outdoor Sportsman Place in Kodak, Tenn.
The Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County is hosting the event.