Bass Pro Tour Stage 4

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Recap with James Elam

Stage 4 of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Chickamauga is a wrap. ANGLR Expert James Elam made it through the Elimination Round and finished 31st in the Knockout Round. We caught up with Elam for a little Q&A recap of his event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Approaching the Event on Chickamauga

How did you approach practice for Chickamauga, knowing that you would all be fishing the same lake the entire event unlike some of the other Stages of the Bass Pro Tour?

I didn’t set the hook much. You really don’t even need to set the hook at all during practice in this format. Just getting bites is all you want to do in practice because every scoreable bass counts in the tournament. You can maybe set the hook a few times here and there to see what size they are but there’s still really no point in doing it. When they’re trying to spawn, they’re all mixed together anyway.

What about conserving fish knowing you’ll be on the same body of water and the weights will zero periodically throughout the event?

You don’t conserve fish at all in this thing in the Shotgun Round (day one). You basically just run up the score as much as you can and you try to start saving some fish in the Elimination Round (day two). If the cutline is 50-pounds on the Elimination Round day and you have 100-pounds, then you can start saving fish.  Bass Pro Tour Stage 4(1)

Otherwise it’s catch all you can. Image Credit: Garrick Dixon

Especially in this format when you’re fishing a shallow water spring tournament because there are 40 other boats out there on the days you’re not.

I was in group A this time and I was happy about that because I had one little cut that had a lot of fish in it and I didn’t want to have to fish behind somebody else that had completely worn them out catching every single fish that bites.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Finding the Pattern on Chickamauga

What pattern did you run this week?

This is the first time I’ve got on them all year where I felt like I could do well. I was pretty comfortable with the stage the fish were in.

I flipped a Molix Creature and threw a Molix Sligo this week.

I’m not a great sight fisherman so I just fished a few bedding areas blind casting. I found a couple cuts with some beds and some cruisers. They just had a lot of fish in them. I just went through there and blind flipped and fished really slow. If I got into a slick calm situation, I would throw the Sligo. But most of the time I would just go up and down the bank flipping. And If I missed one flipping, I would flip a Molix Lizard back in. I don’t know if it was the different action or profile or what it was about the Lizard, but they would usually eat it when I’d miss one on the Creature.

There wasn’t much grass this week. Just mostly bank fishing in 3-feet of water or so. The weather wasn’t too bad. the water temp was 64-degrees so they were ready to spawn. The problem was just the water level. The water rose really fast and then they started bobbing it up and down. The females just weren’t staging fully yet and weren’t going to move up until the water column stabilized. That’s one thing that really messed with this tournament. I only caught one female the whole time.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4(2)

It was a 6-11, but the rest of the fish I caught were all males.

We had torrential rains and it muddied up some of my stuff but from what I could tell it didn’t matter for where I was fishing. But for some people, I’m sure it did in certain regions of the lake. One thing I would do, I had a watermelon Creature bait I was flipping and I had one in green pumpkin. I would switch back and forth based on the water color. When it got stained I would use the green pumpkin and when it was clear and bright without much wind I would flip the watermelon.

My final day started off strong because I caught that 6-11 early, but then I got behind a couple guys and got in a bad rotation and just ran out of fish. In this deal you have to work really quickly and it’s hard to catch up once you get behind because they keep piling it on.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 4: Elam’s Gear for Lake Chickamauga

Setup #1

Rod: 7-6 heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 20-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/8-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Flippin’ Hook 4/0

Bait: Molix Creature

Setup #2

Rod: 7-2 medium heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/8-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu Superline EWG 3/0

Bait: Molix Lizard

Setup #3

Rod: 7-2 medium heavy Shimano Expride

Reel: Shimano Metanium 8.5:1

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX

Weight: 3/16-ounce tungsten weight

Hook: Gamakatsu SuperLine EWG 3/0

Bait: Molix Sligo

Interested in Information From the 2019 Bassmaster Classic?

Elam wore the ANGLR Bullseye during practice and competition. With one press of a button, Elam was able to capture GPS coordinates for each fish catch along with all sorts of weather and water data, time of day, and more. To gain access to Elam’s ANGLR Intelligence Pack from the Tennessee River, click here.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.

James Elam


I am a Professional Bass Fisherman from Tulsa, OK. I have qualified for 4 Bassmaster Classics and fished on the Bassmaster Elite Series for 6 years. I am a Bassmaster Elite Series Champion and a 2X Bassmaster Opens Champion. I am now headed to fish the MLF Bass Pro Tour!

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