Terry Scroggins, a.k.a. “Big Show” was finishing his tackle prep as rain fell Monday night during his day off from competition for General Tire Stage Five of the Bass Pro Tour. The Team Toyota pro had some old school country music playing, stayed dry and was comfortable as could be thanks to the covered garage included with his lodging choice for the week.
Watts Bar Lake is serving as the playing field for Stage Five of the Bass Pro Tour, but as soon as he saw this tournament on the schedule Big Show planned to stay at the PB Lodge; a fisherman-friendly hotel on the shores of Lake Chickamauga that is 30-minutes down the road from this week’s take-off.
After years of competing on professional fishing tours, these anglers become professional travelers, too, and Scroggins said the best traveling tip he can offer is to be mindful of where you park your rig and lay your head down at night. Little amenities or proximity to certain necessities is super important. Whether you’re going on a tournament related fishing trip or a family vacation, nothing ruins a trip faster than subpar lodging or staying in the wrong part of town.
“For young anglers or a professional rookie working through travel logistics and picking places to stay is just as intimidating as the fishing itself,” Scroggins said. “Staying in the right part of town and getting a feel for the lay of the land around the fishery is about as crucial as knowing the best areas on the lake. Being comfortable with where you are staying and having peace of mind absolutely affects your fishing.”
It may sound dramatic but knowing the areas to stay, and the areas to avoid, undoubtedly makes a difference with your time on the water. With all the money and equipment wrapped up into modern trucks, boats, electronics, tackle, and gear; safety and security need to be your first priority. A lesson Scroggins nearly learned the hard way.
“We were fishing an FLW Tour event back in 2004 on Lake Okeechobee. Dean Rojas and I both did well and made the final day,” Scroggins recalled. “The tournament was going out of Clewiston but Rojas and I had been staying near Harney Pond. Since we made the cut and most of the field had left town, we made a late-night decision to split a room in Clewiston and be closer to take-off the following morning.
“My head had hardly hit the pillow when I hear my TH-Marine two-way alarm system on my boat go off. I rushed outside and see a guy running away from my boat. The alarm system saved us that night, but the decision to blindly book a room in an unfamiliar area nearly cost me. That experience taught me to be mindful of where I’m staying.”
More than just security, anglers should have easy access to a solid boat ramp, and proximity to decent food options, a good grocery store, and a trustworthy gas station.
Tips for finding the best places / areas to stay
Kevin VanDam has long preached the importance of “controlling the controllable” in competitive bass fishing because so much in fishing is out of our control. Where you stay is one detail traveling anglers are very much in control of.
“Everyone has heard ‘preparation is the key to success’, well that doesn’t stop at tackle prep,” Scroggins said with a smile. “Networking is everything. At this point in my career I just have to pick up the phone and call a local to the area or someone I know who has been to a lake. Take this week for example. I called Michael Neal (Dayton, TN local) last year before our derby on Chickamauga and he got me hooked up with the PB Lodge and it worked out perfect.”
Scroggins has reciprocated this favor to hundreds of anglers over the years when tournament trails come to Florida. Anglers may be tight-lipped about what they do on the water, but lodging is a different story. If you don’t have a network built yet, Big Show said you aren’t out of options.
“Do some research and call the local chamber of commerce or tourism board if the area has it,” Scroggins offered. “Ask them about lodging, they’ll be more than happy to help. Heck, if you can’t reach them call the local pizza delivery place. Strike up a conversation and ask the workers if they know the best places to stay. Any insight goes a long way.”
Worst case scenario, Scroggins said sometimes you just have to make a trip to see firsthand for yourself. Pre-practice on the lake and drive through potential host towns. Find a hotel, campground, or Air BnB you trust, and you’ll thank yourself when it comes tournament time.
As for Scroggins, he likes to be as comfortable as the ride of his all-new 2022 Tundra with the hotel and area he chooses to stay in. He’ll happily trade a 30-minute commute to take-off in the mornings once he finds a place with the accommodations he’s looking for. Be like Big Show. Your next fishing trip will be better for it.
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