JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Some East Tennesseans will compete in the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour hosted by Visit Jefferson at Douglas and Cherokee Lakes in mid-March.
Brandon Coulter, of Knoxville, Ott DeFoe, of Blaine, and David Walker, of Sevierville, will be at the six-day event for a chance to win a prize of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and a valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
“For two lakes to be so close, look alike, and have similar topography, they fish vastly different,” said DeFoe, who has more than $2.7 million in career earnings. “Cherokee has more largemouth than ever, but it’s mainly a smallmouth fishery. Douglas has some smallmouth in it, but the largemouth are dominant.”
According to the news release, the current cycle of the lakes will be different with Cherokee Lake fishing “exceptionally well”, while Douglas Lake is “more challenging” than it has traditionally been.
“The numbers are very good on Douglas, but the size is down compared to how it was in years past,” he said. “Cherokee has been great the past several years and is full of solid three-pounders.”
The late March setting of this date is about perfect, according to DeFoe.
“It’s about a week earlier than what I would say is the best time of the year to fish in Tennessee, but the fishing should be excellent,” he said. “The fish will be in a pre-spawn pattern, and we’ll see guys catch them with jerk baits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and vibrating jigs. There should still be a good deep bite, and the ‘Damiki Rig’ will also catch some fish.”
The 2023 Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top anglers in the world to compete in regular season tournaments around the country.
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. from the Dandridge Ramp, located on Public Drive.
The 40 Anglers in Group A will compete in a two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday while Group B will be on Sunday and Tuesday. Coulter is a part of Group A. DeFoe and Walker are a part of Group B.
The top 20 anglers from each group will advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are at zero, and the reaming 40 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round.
In the Thursday final Championship Round, weights will carry over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total will win the $100,000 prize.
The Knockout Round and Championship Round will be held on Cherokee Lake, with anglers launching from the TVA Boat Launch located on Renfro Road.
Matt Becker, of Ten Mile, Wesley Strader, of Spring City, Jacob Wheeler, of Harrison, Andy Morgan, of Dayton, John Murray, of Spring City, and Michael Neal, of Dayton will also be there. Becker, Strader and Wheeler are a part of Group A. Morgan and Murray are a part of Group B.
For more information and how to watch the competition live, visit majorleaguefishing.com.