Prespawn contest on tap for College Series event at Douglas Lake


JEFFERSON, Tenn. — When anglers come to Douglas Lake, they can always expect to catch lots of bass.

But when anglers visit March 7-8 for the Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Tennessee pro Robert Gee believes their timing could be perfect.

“This is usually the time of year when they start biting really good,” said Gee, a rookie on the Bassmaster Elite Series this year. “That is usually prime time when you need to be going. It won’t be a tournament where people are looking to just catch one. Most everyone should have a limit, but they might all be 12-inchers. A 3-pounder is definitely a good one at Douglas.”

Douglas Lake is one of the many popular fisheries in eastern Tennessee and provides the opportunity to catch quality largemouth and smallmouth bass. Douglas has played host to several major Bassmaster events in recent history, including a 2021 Open that was won by Japanese pro Daisuke Aoki with a three-day total of 43 pounds, 13 ounces.

Daily takeoffs for the College Series event will be held at 7 a.m. ET from Dandridge Boat Dock with weigh-ins back at the dock each day at 3 p.m. This is the second of three College Series events in the Lunkers Division, and teams will be fighting to punch their tickets to the College Series National Championship, details of which will be released at a later date.

Largemouth bass are the showcase species at Douglas, but smallmouth also play a role in most events. Both species, depending on how warm it gets, should be entering the prespawn phase.

“Usually, when the water starts warming up a little bit into the lower to mid-50s, they’re likely to rush the bank,” Gee said. “We get a lot of rain from late February into mid-March. That’s been on display in the (Bassmaster) Classics on Loudoun.”

With the lake still in the midst of a drastic drawdown, most of the wood cover along the shoreline will not come into play. But that still leaves lots of rock and rock transitions for anglers to target.

In stained areas, Gee anticipates a shallow crankbait bite will present itself. In clearer areas, a jerkbait will be an important tool. 

“The typical east Tennessee players will shine in this tournament,” Gee said. “That’s usually the time of year I break out a Magdraft (swimbait) too. The swimbait bite is pretty good. I think the team that will win will be up shallow throwing a crankbait, ChatterBait or lipless.”

Gee also believes several teams will have success fishing offshore points and humps.

“There are usually a lot of bass offshore. You can go and catch a lot of numbers off the bank, but that’s not really where the big ones live,” he said. “The Damiki stuff could still be a player. Douglas is similar to Cherokee, just not as many smallmouth.”

After a day off on March 9, the Bassmaster Junior Series and Strike King Bassmaster High School Series will hold one-day events on Douglas Lake March 10.

These events are being hosted by Visit Jefferson County, TN.