Cherokee Notebook: Favored Local Believes 13-15 Pounds a Day Will Win

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 Jul 8th, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Jul 8th, 2010 at 12:00 AM

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – Notes from the PAA Bass Pro Shops Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix registration meeting Wednesday night …

Local fishermen will have their eyes on a few hometown anglers this week on Cherokee Lake but that’s not any extra pressure on one of the favorites.

“Either they’re going to bite or they’re not going to bite and nothing else really matters,” said JR Henard of Rogersville, which is located on the upper end of the lake. Henard, Cruz Cope of Treadway and Brian Holt of Newport are among the local sticks who will be watched closely by hometown fans.

Henard fishes the lake regularly, most often in the evening or at night after his 8-to-5 job. He said he’d never fished daylight to dark for three straight days like he did this week in practice, “but it was nice to fish during the day for a change.”

“I had one decent, one good and one bad day of practice,” he said. “The lake’s not full. It looks full to people who may not know about it, but you can see the (high water) line and it’s not full yet. Since we haven’t had any rain I don’t know if it will get full this summer.”

The area is well off its normal rainfall amounts for summer with less than 1.3 inches measured in June, with a typical amount of more than 4 inches. National Weather Service records show it’s the sixth-driest June to date and one of the two hottest in more than 60 years. The Tennessee Valley Authority has been running only minimal water flow through Cherokee Dam to meet federal requirements.

Henard still believes it will take 13-15 pounds a day to win the three-day tournament, despite the rumblings by anglers about an ultra-tough bite.

“If a guy jumps out pretty good on the first day he’ll be in good shape,” he said. “I think you could have two really good days and not catch a limit the other day, or have an off day, and still win it. Cherokee is really unpredictable. It’s not a bad lake … it’s just different.”

In the spin

Yamaha pro Randall Tharp of Alabama has been a power fisherman pretty much all his life, but realized in the last few years he needed to diversify.

That meant adding a spinning rod to his arsenal. Like many anglers late to that game, he found it to be an extra tool in his components.

“I never have used them before but got one last year because I knew I needed to be more versatile,” Tharp said. “Now I have four of them. I’m still learning about using them.”

This week on Cherokee Lake?

“I don’t think I’ll be using one,” he said. “I figured out a little something Tuesday in practice later in the day that I’ll probably key on this week.”

On the Big Muddy

Koppers Livetarget pro Stephen Browning of Arkansas was recently featured in a National Geographic Channel documentary titled Mississippi River Quest after a trip down the 2,500-mile Mississippi River.

Browning joined scientist Marcus Erikson and filmmaker Bill Bowles in the excursion last autumn. They used a variety of watercraft – canoe, kayak, Triton boat, pontoon boat and jet boat – to go from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

The three-hour documentary premiered July 3 on National Geographic Channel.

Cherokee trivia

Cherokee Lake hasn’t hosted a major national bass tournament in years, but it can lay claim to one historical fact on the Bassmaster circuit.

Almost 30 years ago this month, Jerry Knicely of Morristown – the host city for this week’s PAA Tournament Series event – finished the Bass Champs tournament tied with fellow Volunteer State angler Alex Fancher. They were sent back out on Cherokee Lake in the first fish-off to determine the winner.

Knicely caught a bass that won the title and a bit of history.

Historical crossroads

Morristown is nestled amid the mountains and ridges of eastern Tennessee where pioneers set out in the late 1700s to explore the new nation’s western frontier.

Davy Crockett grew up in Morristown and today a replica of his home stands near downtown. The Crockett Tavern Museum is one of the city’s tourist attractions. To the northwest is the famed Cumberland Gap, where pioneers crossed into the western territory and today the Cumberland Gap National Park attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Morristown also was the site of several Civil War battles and today highlights those with key sites. Among them are churches and homes that served as military hospitals and headquarters including one for Confederate Gen. James Longstreet in the winter of 1863-64. The Bethesda Church and Cemetery was used as a military hospital and contains the graves of at least 80 unknown Civil War soldiers.

To the northeast in Greeneville is the home of Andrew Johnson, the nation’s 17th president. Two of his homes, a tailor shop and his gravesite are preserved in a National Historic Site. Johnson was vice president for Abraham Lincoln and became president after Lincoln’s assassination, and then served from 1865-69.

Holston history

Cherokee Lake was formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s damming of the Holston River as part of its hydroelectric system to provide electricity and flood control.

Cherokee Lake is about 60 miles long and roughly 28,000 acres in size, spanning several counties. The Holston River has three forks and begins in southwestern Virginia, with the forks joining near Kingsport, Tenn. It flows southwest until its confluence with the French Broad River east of Knoxville to form the Tennessee River.

The Holston and its tributaries offer anglers opportunities for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, crappie, brown and rainbow trout, catfish, striped bass and other species of game fish and rough fish.

Getting in the salt

Kinami pro Steve Kennedy of Alabama walked into the Wednesday night registration meeting with a change in attitude from his previous fishing trip the week before.

Kennedy had been in the Gulf of Mexico with some friends going after tarpon and king mackerel. He was successful with the tarpon, hooking and bringing to the boat a 60-pounder, but the kings eluded the crew.

“I had a big ol’ Berkley swimbait still tied on from (the FLW Tour event at) Guntersville and we saw some tarpon rolling,” Kennedy said. “I threw it out there and that tarpon just crushed it. I got it to the boat and we were trying to get it in when it came off, but that was good enough for me.”

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