By BassFan Staff
Tim Carini has fished Lake Chickamauga plenty of times before.
He's read and heard about the massive stringers of bass the lake has produced at this time of year over the past couple of winters, but this past Sunday topped them all and then some.
While out for the day with renowned Tennessee River guide Rogne Brown, Carini was part of something he called a one-in-a-million type of experience. Brown and Carini, each throwing an umbrella rig all day, combined to catch numerous bass in the 7- to 10-pound range with the best five weighing in at 49 pounds.
The only thing that would've made the outing possibly any sweeter would've been catching those fish in a tournament.
Carini, who works as an ad sales executive with InterMedia Outdoors handling accounts for In-Fisherman, Game & Fish and BassFan, submitted the following first-hand account of his memorable experience with Brown.
We all wonder, how do some anglers catch these monster limits of bass?
What is it they are doing different from the rest of us? Is it a special spot, a secret technique or bait?
I was fortunate enough to witness, and be a part of a special day, a day most of us can only dream about, a day where two anglers caught five bass for over 49 pounds.
Lake Chickamauga is less than 2 hours from my house, thankfully, and I get to fish it a few times a year from my own boat. Over the years, some locals have been catching some monster bass and limits from this lake and every year it seems to get better and better.
Rogne Brown is a local tournament angler and guide and has had some incredible catches in the past two springs, including the BFL all-time single-day weight record of 44-10 last year.
After fishing with him last summer, I booked him again for this spring, with the hopes I could see how he does it, how he catches these monster bags as my biggest fish from Chickamauga was only a 7 1/2-pounder, and most limits I can catch on my own up there would not even place in the smallest local tournaments. Our first date was cancelled due to the snow, and the ice that covered much of the bays in the lake from the extreme cold we have had this winter down south. Lucky for me we were able to rebook.
What happened on Sunday, Feb. 16 was more than either of us could've expected. It’s no secret that the umbrella rig catches some of the biggest bass in the lake. Part of me was against the umbrella rig when it came out, especially their use in tournaments. However, it was something I never had much confidence with until now.
Our morning started off strong once we hit the third spot of the day, I boated a 10-03 bass, an ounce shy of my personal best from nearly 20 years ago. A few minutes later, I boated a 9-02 bass.
“The pressure is off of me now,” Brown joked.
It didn’t matter if I had another bite all day. Soon, Brown joined the party with a 9-09 bass and a 6-08 squeaker. We had four fish in the well at this point for 32 pounds and some change.
Over the next few hours, things were slow with just the occasional bite. With every cast of the umbrella rig, I just kept thinking this cast could be the one where we catch another giant.
“If we could get one more 9-pounder that would be one heck of a day and make a great picture with each of us holding two big bass,” Brown said repeatedly.
While it was a nice thought, I didn’t think we could do it.
Later in the day, either the bite picked up again or we found some more big females. When we caught the fourth bass – it weighed 10-00 – we were both excited.
“Some people go to Mexico for a week with the hopes of catching a 9-pounder, and we are right here in Tennessee,” I said.
Once we caught that bass, we had somewhere around 44 pounds for our best five, just a few ounces shy of Rogne’s personal best day. Another 7 1/2-pound “guppy” for the day and it was almost time to go, but not before we landed a 10-02 beast that put us over the top and gave us a 49-pound limit.
As a good club level/federation level angler, I’ve learned something from Brown on both of my trips. On this trip, I learned something new about pre-spawn staging areas and how making 20 to 30 casts to the same piece of isolated cover can entice a bite. I’m still amazed, a week after the lake had ice on it, that we were catching these big females in such shallow water with 42 degree temperatures.
To see a 49-pound bag is incredible. To be part of it was surreal. We were lucky that day, the stars aligned, and I was fortunate to be a part of it.
> Here are some gear notes from Brown and Carini's outing. Carini was using a 3-arm umbrella rig while Brown was throwing a rig made by his nephew FLW Tour angler Michael Neal outfitted with 3.5" Big Bite Baits Cane Thumpers, the same bait Andy Young used to post a win at the recent Lake Amistad Bassmaster Central Open.