Brody Campbell of Oxford, Ohio, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 17 pounds even Thursday to win the Toyota Series event at Lake Chickamauga and earn the top payout of $52,300. Campbell’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 62-03 gave him the victory by an 11-11 margin over local favorite Seth Davis of Dayton, Tenn. , who finished second with 15 bass totaling 50-08 to earn $21,000.
With more dreary conditions, the majority of the field struggled on the final day. Considering the 26-year-old Campbell already had a 9-07 lead going into the day, the tough bite suited him just fine. Yet, he showed he wasn’t about to leave any doubt.
Campbell claimed his fourth win with MLF, but this was easily his biggest payday.
Having limited knowledge of Chickamauga coming into the event, Campbell admits he went down to the Chester Frost area and looked around on some of the biggest community holes. What he found were some key isolated pieces of cover. Specifically, a couple of stumps on two humps in Chester Frost and an isolated grass patch on the end of an offshore bar near the mouth.
So, after starting each day fishing near takeoff for some keepers to “get his confidence up,” he’d then make the run down south to those community holes to try and upgrade. The first day’s 30 mile-per-hour winds made it hard to fish them effectively, he said, but Day 2 was a different story.
“It got calm and I did some damage,” Campbell said. “I caught both 7-pounders off those stumps using my forward-facing sonar, and that 9-pounder came off that grass patch.
“Other people were fishing those three spots because they’re so obvious, but you had to know those isolated sweet spots with small pods of fish on them. I’d just roll up there, and using forward-facing sonar, I was able to just make the right cast, especially once it got calm the last two days.”
In terms of offerings, Campbell wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. A Carolina rig with a Strike King Rage Bug caught plenty of keepers, as did a Neko rig, but his biggest player was a dropshot with a morning dawn-colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm.
Considering the level of talent always present at Lake Chickamauga events, it’s hard to imagine such an obvious, straightforward game plan would win the event. Yet, with how tough the conditions were this week – high winds the first day, rain the second and third, with transitioning fish and no current – keeping it simple was exactly what Campbell needed to do. That, and weigh in a megabag on Day 2.
“These guys are some of the best anglers in the country, with so many local hammers who know this lake better than anybody,” Campbell said. “So, to come out here and beat them guys is unbelievable. It truly feels amazing.”
Here are the final totals for the Top 10:
1st: Brody Campbell, Oxford, Ohio, 15 bass, 62-03, $52,300
2nd: Seth Davis, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 50-08, $21,000
3rd: Ethan Shaw, Carmel, Ind., 15 bass, 45-11, $14,250
4th: Donny Beck, Killen, Ala., 15 bass, 45-08, $12,250
5th: Taylor Parker, Lake View, Ala., 15 bass, 43-08, $11,450
6th: Emil Wagner, Marietta, Ga., 15 bass, 43-08, $9,125
7th: Casey Martin, Brownsboro, Ala., 15 bass, 42-09, $8,400
8th: Jade Keeton, Florence, Ala., 15 bass, 42-02, $6,900
9th: Jordan Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 15 bass, 40-13, $5,900
10th: Greg Pugh, Cullman, Ala., 14 bass, 40-07, $4,500
Casey Martin of Brownsboro, Ala., won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award with a fish weighing 9-07. Campbell earned the award on Day 2 with a 9-09.