Top 150 Solo Series
Dale Pelfrey Takes Early Lead on Chickamauga with 31.36
By John N. Felsher
DAYTON, Tenn. -- With a well-earned reputation for producing huge bass, Lake Chickamauga didn’t disappoint as anglers battle for top honors during the last American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series inaugural season event on June 25, 2021.
“We had a beautiful day for fishing,” reported Floyd Vaughn, the tournament director. “We saw some really good sacks brought in on the first day including two bass weighing more than nine pounds and several in the seven-pound range.”
Running out of the Dayton, Tenn. City Ramp to fish the 36,240-acre impoundment on the Tennessee River, Jonathan “Dale” Pelfrey of Rockwood, Tenn. took a commanding early lead on the first day of the two-day event. Landing a five-bass daily tournament limit, he brought in a giant sack weighing 31.36 pounds to hold the Day 1 lead by 6.68 pounds.
Pelfrey’s Day 1 lead beats his first day average of 6.27 pounds per bass. The current leader greatly increased his average and his position in the tournament standings by placing a 9.52-pound bucketmouth on the scales, the second largest bass weighed on the first day.
“I stayed on the ledges all day long,” Pelfrey revealed. “I was just fortunate enough to pull into a spot that had a good bunch of fish in the morning. I was dragging baits and throwing a Strike King 10XD crankbait. It’s always a good day fishing when the first three bites weigh 21 pounds.”
Holding second among the 90 competitors, Jeff Knight of Cleveland, Tenn. also brought in five bass. His Day 1 limit weighed 24.68 pounds. Just missing the double-digit plateau, Knight set the standard for the tournament lunker race with a 9.90-pound sowbelly. Unless an angler catches a bigger bass, Knight will collect a $1,000 bonus when the tournament ends.
“I didn’t have time to practice, but my son and I did fish a tournament recently,” Knight commented. “During that event, I graphed a hump with a few fish on it. At 7:15 a.m., I pulled up to that hump and caught a two-pounder. A couple casts later, I caught the 9.90-pounder. On my next cast, I caught a 6.5-pounder and had a limit by 7:30 a.m. I actually thought the big bass was a catfish because when it hit the jig and I set the hook, it just went deep.”
Coming up from Guntersville, Ala., Jim M. Leary locked down the Number Three slot after one day of competition. He tallied a five-bass limit for 23.41 pounds and capped his catch with a 7.54-pound hoss.
“For me, everything changed from practice,” Leary said. “I didn’t catch a fish in my first three spots. I didn’t get my first bite until almost 8 a.m., but it was a five-pounder. I caught a limit of two-pounders after that. At 11:30 a.m. I pulled up to a spot that looked decent on the map and didn’t already have a boat on it. That’s where I caught the 7.54-pounder, a five-pounder and two four-pounders.”
Seth Davis of Harrison, Tenn. holds fourth place with five bass and 20.77 pounds. Sitting in fifth place, Tim P. Wheelon from Bell Buckle, Tenn. caught five bass for 18.86 pounds. On a lake so full of monster bass, one cast at any time anywhere on the impoundment can make a huge difference in the final standings.
Still in the thick of the competition, Paul “Tony” A. Tidwell of Horton, Ala. holds sixth place after one day of intense competition. He landed five bass weighing 18.44 pounds. Bradley G. Gardner of Melena, Ga. follows closely behind with five fish for 18.38 pounds.
Jesse Wise of Erwin, N.C. sits in eighth place with a five-bass limit and 17.59 pounds. Fellow Tar Heel Mike Corbishley from Raleigh brought in five bass for 17.08 pounds.
Rounding out the top 10 anglers after the first day, Jay Hoff came all the way down from Tyrone, Pa. to catch a five-bass daily tournament limit going 16.40 pounds. He anchored his catch with a 7.14-pound kicker.
This tournament wraps up the inaugural season for the ABA Top 150 Solo Series as well as the Series Southeastern Division season. The action and the season conclude on Saturday, June 26.
In earlier ABA Top 150 Solo Series Southeast Division events, Shane Powell of Dothan, Ala. won the first divisional event in February on Lake Eufaula near the town of Eufaula, Ala. Jesse Wise, now holding eighth place at Chickamauga, won the second division event, held April 30-May 1 on Lake Guntersville near Scottsboro, Ala.
In the Southwest Division, Cody Pitt from Hineston, La. won the very first ABA Top 150 Solo Series tournament at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas line near Many, La. in February. Zach A. Clark of Center, Texas, won the next event, held in March at Lake Sam Rayburn near Zavalla, Texas. Clark also won the divisional season finale held April 30-May 1 at Lake Eufaula near Eufaula, Okla., making him the only back-to-back divisional tournament winner at this time.
Name Hometown Fish Wgt Pnlty B/F Total 1 Jonathan "Dale" D. Pelfrey Rockwood TN 5/5 31.36 9.52 31.36 2 Jeff Knight Cleveland TN 5/5 24.68 9.90 24.68 3 James "Jim" M. Leary Guntersville AL 5/5 23.41 7.54 23.41 4 Seth Davis Harrison TN 5/5 20.77 20.77 5 Tim P. Wheelon Bell Buckle TN 5/5 18.86 18.86 6 Paul "Tony" A. Tidwell Horton AL 5/5 18.44 18.44 7 Bradley G. Gardner Melena GA 5/5 18.38 18.38 8 Jesse Wise Erwin NC 5/5 17.59 17.59 9 Mike Corbishley Raliegh NC 5/5 17.08 17.08 10 Jay Hoff Tyrone PA 5/5 16.40 7.14 16.40 11 Tony L. ONeal Zebulon GA 4/4 16.22 7.01 16.22 12 Kacy L. Mims Randolph AL 5/5 15.62 7.84 15.62 13 Brent Butler Vonore TN 5/5 15.34 15.34 14 David "David" W. Parsons Dothan AL 5/5 15.31 15.31 15 Christopher "Cricket" A. Lenoir City TN 5/5 14.85 14.85 16 Jacob T. Castleberry Cumming GA 5/5 14.54 14.54 17 Haden Lamb Ooltewah TN 5/5 14.49 14.49 18 Scott "Scooter" C. Edward Athens GA 5/5 14.29 14.29 19 Dan L. Morrow Eastanolle GA 5/5 14.17 14.17 20 Terry L. Tucker Gadsden AL 5/5 13.99 6.20 13.99
All of those previous tournament winners and the winner of the Chickamauga event will each qualify to fish the 2022 Ray Scott Championship. In addition, the two division Anglers of the Year based on accrued points will also qualify to fish the Ray Scott Championship.
A former ABA angler, Bryan D. New of Belmont, N.C. won the 2019 Ray Scott Championship, collecting about $100,000 in cash and prizes. He now fishes the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Named for the Chickamauga Cherokees who used to live in the area, Chickamauga dates to 1940 and covers about 60 miles on the Tennessee River. In 2000, the state of Tennessee began stocking Florida largemouth bass into the system.
Presently, Gabe Keen holds both the Tennessee state record for largemouth and the Chickamauga lake record with a 15-pound, 3-ounce lunker he caught in 2015. Lake Chickamauga also produced the Tennessee record spotted bass, a 6-pound, 1-ounce fish. The lake also holds some lunker smallmouth bass.
For more information about American Bass Anglers visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406. For more information on the ABA Top 150 Solo Series, see www.americanbassanglers.com/Top150.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, Triton Boats, Mercury Motors, Motor Guide, Berkley, Abu Garcia, T-H Marine, Power Pole, Garmin, Monster Energy, Lucas Oil, Engel Coolers, OPTIMA Batteries, REKS Sunglasses, and HotelPlanner.com.
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