Editor's note: Alan McGuckin, the public relations manager for Dynamic Sponsorships and an Oklahoma resident, checked in with a few Okie anglers to get the local lowdown on Lake Tenkiller, site of this week's Bassmaster Elite Series regular season finale.
Former Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Chip Porché (pictured, left) began fishing Lake Tenkiller with his dad at age 8. He now works for Tulsa-based Dynamic Sponsorships, and continues to fish the lake regularly. Recent high school national bass fishing champ Jeremy Tolle (pictured, center) is now a Carhartt College Series angler at nearby Northeastern State University. Tolle’s family has had cabins on Tenkiller since the 1970s, and Jeremy estimates he fishes there 100 days a year.
And then there’s local boy Cooper Hall (pictured, right). He has lived his entire life in the Ozark terrain that surrounds the picturesque reservoir. Hall was once neighbors with Tenkiller ace and Bass Pro Tour angler Jason Christie and fishes Tenkiller 120 days a year.
Combined these three anglers possess an exceptional range of knowledge about Tenkiller, and they offered up their take on what fans and Bassmaster Elite Series pros can expect this week on the eastern Oklahoma reservoir that was impounded 66 years ago. Here's a sampling of how they think this week's tournament will play out:
Lake Tenkiller is one of the greatest smallmouth fisheries in Oklahoma. What percentage of all the bass weighed in during the Elite Series this week do you think will be smallmouth?
> Porché: 35 percent
> Tolle: 20 percent
> Hall: 40 percent
This tournament features a rare and challenging 16-inch minimum length for largemouth and smallmouth. How challenging will it be to catch a five-bass limit each day that pass muster?
> Porché: It’s for sure tough to catch five that big in September on Tenkiller. Let’s just say they’ll be a ton of 15-inch fish caught and thrown back that never see the weigh-in.
> Tolle: There will be lots of 14- and 15-inchers caught, but 16-inch fish are definitely tougher to catch here at this time of year.
> Hall: To be honest, I’m so used the 16-inch minimum here; it’s no big deal. But I’ll say this: It forces you to utilize patterns that target bigger fish.
Tenkiller was 20 to 30 feet above normal pool throughout much of the summer, but it’s finally dropped rapidly to near normal. How will the drastic change in water levels affect this tournament?
> Porché: It will make this week better, because the water was so high that fishing pressure was very limited most of this summer. Plus, it’s added a healthy stain to a normally pretty clear reservoir.
> Tolle: The falling water will keep the deep water summer patterns more in play, rather than spreading the fish out in flooded shoreline bushes.
> Hall: The falling water creates current and that makes smallmouth chew! Plus, the high water took a ton of fishing pressure off this lake most of the summer.
Tenkiller is 35 miles long, but it’s upper portion is very river like, compared to the mostly Ozark Mountain looking reservoir that comprises most of its 13,000 surface acres. How much will the upper river-like portion play a factor this week?
> Porché: There will be fish caught in the river for sure, but I think the guy who wins will have productive areas from the river all the way down to the dam.
> Tolle: I’ll guess that two of the top 10 anglers will catch most of their weight in the river this week.
> Hall: There’s fewer fish up in the river, but the quality size sure lives up there. So if you get the right five bites in the river, it could be magical.
Name two lures you wouldn’t leave the official launch ramp at Chicken Creek without this week?
> Porche: Whopper Plopper and a 3/4-ounce football jig.
> Tolle: Zoom Trick Worm (red bug) and a 10-inch worm (blue fleck).
> Hall: Pop R and a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin football jig.
How much weight will an Elite Series pro need to average each day to make Sunday’s championship round?
> Porché: 11 or 12 pounds per day.
> Tolle: I’d say 15 or 16 pounds a day to make the Top 10.
> Hall: I’ll say 14 pounds a day for a Top 10.