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Cherokee primed for 41st BFL All-American

Cherokee primed for 41st BFL All-American

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The 41st annual BFL All-American will take place this week on Cherokee Lake, showcasing some of the nation’s best weekend grassroots anglers and awarding the winning boater a top prize of up to $120,000 and an automatic qualification into REDCREST 2025.

In addition, the highest-finishing boaters and co-anglers from each of the seven regionals at the All-American advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship, where they will have a shot at winning up to $235,000.

Jefferson County, Tennessee, played host to a very successful All-American Championship in 2021. That event, however, was held on Douglas Lake. Church Hill, Tenn. boater Brant Grimm, who called Douglas and Cherokee lakes his “home fisheries,” added his name to the illustrious list of BFL All-American winners.

Local Toyota Series pro Jimmy Neece Jr. of Bristol, Tenn., said he expects to see a lot of action on Cherokee during this event.

“I don’t think they could have picked a better time of year to hit Cherokee Lake,” said Neece. “The weather should be great and the fish are in the perfect bite window, so this should be a pretty exciting, diverse event.

“I think we’ll see a lot of fish caught out deep and some up in the shallow cover. The upper end of the lake should play really well with the flipping and topwater bite.”

Neece said he thinks it will take about 13 pounds per day to make it into the Top 10 for the final day and 16 pounds per day to win the event.

“I’ve fished Cherokee Lake my whole life and can remember a time when you never caught a smallmouth,” said Neece. “But the fishery has shifted through the years. Smallmouth have been dominant for the last few years, but largemouth are starting to make a comeback now and this event is really setting up to be won with a combination of species.”

Cherokee Lake, also known as Cherokee Reservoir, is an artificial reservoir formed by the impoundment of the Holston River behind Cherokee Dam. The dam was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1941 to create hydroelectric energy during World War II.

Neece said go-to-baits like the Heddon Zara Spook Walking Bait and a Carolina rig are usually key staples on the fishery.

“I expect to see a combination of shallow and deep fishing during this event,” said Neece. “There will be a lot of [Garmin] LiveScoping going on, and I expect to see guys doing really good (doing that), but also think we’ll see other guys do well fishing up shallow or fishing the river.

“In this event, river rats, ‘scopers and traditional fisherman can all do really well,” Neece continued. “There’s a lot of backwater, creeks and shallow flats in Cherokee Lake. You can catch fish on bluff walls or in the backs of creeks, it all depends on who’s got the ability to get the farthest north up the river.”

Anglers will launch each day at 6:30 a.m. ET from the TVA Cherokee Dam Boat Launch, located at 2805 N. Highway 92 in Jefferson City. Weigh-in each day will be held at the boat launch and will begin at 2:30 p.m.

The full field of 49 boaters and 49 co-anglers will compete on Days 1 (Wednesday) and 2 (Thursday) of the event. After two days of competition, the field is cut to just the Top 10 boaters and co-anglers, based on two-day total cumulative weight, and the final 10 anglers compete on Friday. The boater and co-angler who catch the heaviest three-day total weight will be crowned champions.

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