Big things just keep happening in Dayton and on Chickamauga Lake.
Last week, the 36,240-acre Tennessee River impoundment hosted a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, with John Cox winning the pro division and Darrell Davis landing an 11-pound, 5-ounce largemouth that ranks as the biggest bass caught in a B.A.S.S. event this year.
Now the lake is about to play host to the largest field in the 50-year tournament history of B.A.S.S.
The Costa Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is scheduled for Saturday, with takeoff at 6:40 a.m. ET from Blue Water Resort. The weigh-in is set for 2:40 p.m. at Dayton City Boat Dock, with a massive field of 416 boats.
With two anglers and a team captain or coach in each boat, more than 1,200 participants will be on the water. The previous record for tournament field size was 332 boats, set last April in a High School Open on Lake Guntersville.
“The overwhelming popularity of high school fishing just keeps shining through in these events,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. College and High School Series senior manager. “We’re talking about an incredible field — and they’ll be on an incredible fishery, which we saw with last week’s Open.
“It’s going to be a really exciting moment for the sport.”
Spawning bass played a major role in last week’s event at Chickamauga. Cox fished exclusively for bedding fish to catch his three-day total of 68-3, weighing in daily limits of 22-6, 25-7 and 20-6.
Saturday’s event is one of four High School Opens that qualify student anglers for the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which will be held on Kentucky Lake in June. The Western High School Open on Lake Oroville, California, also is being held Saturday. In addition to top anglers in the Opens, the highest-finishing competitors in state championships and sanctioned high school team trails also are invited to the High School Championship.
Fish Dayton will be hosting the tournament.