KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Fifty-five anglers will soon navigate the Tennessee River waters in the Knoxville area for the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota, which is hosted by Visit Knoxville.

On Friday, a week before the Classic’s kickoff on March 24, B.A.S.S. shared some expected river conditions regarding the tournament. Experts say the conditions of the Tennessee River table seem right for “peak potential.”

B.A.S.S. said in its conditions report that tournament waters include portions of the Holston and French Broad rivers, the confluence of which forms the Tennessee River headwaters; the dominant waters are Fort Loudoun Lake — the first of nine reservoirs on the Tennessee River — and Tellico Lake, which links to Fort Loudoun through a canal passing beneath the U.S. Highway 321 Bridge.

“While the long-range forecast shows the potential for rain all three days, Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Tennessee River standout Brandon Lester has a largely optimistic outlook,” B.A.S.S. stated.

“I think the fishing is going to be really good; honestly, I think it’s going to be about as good as it can possibly be,” Lester said. “Loudoun has plenty of good fish, but it’s not on par with, say, a Guntersville. But if you were to look at the calendar and pick one week for us to be there, I think the third week of March is the best week of the year.

“We’ve had a warm spring so far and we’ve had some warm rain recently, so I feel like the system is going to be in really good shape for a strong, shallow-water bass tournament.”

BA.S.S. reports that with the vernal equinox marking spring’s official start on the Monday (March 20) of Classic Week, bass should be solidly committed to their prespawn movements. Lester, an eight-time Classic qualifier from Fayetteville, Tenn., said a cold spell the week before the Classic should positively impact the seasonal progression.

“We have had some unseasonably warm weather here lately, but it’s going to get back down into the 20s, and then we’re going to have some highs back into the 60s and lows in the high 30s,” Lester said. “That’s about typical for this time of the year, so I expect that water temperature to be around that mid-50-degree range (for the Classic).

“That’s a really good range to keep those fish in prespawn and in bite mode.”

The Bassmaster Classic will be held in Knoxville on March 24-26 for the second time after its 2019 East Tennessee premiere in which local angler Ott DeFoe was crowned champion. Visit Knoxville is hosting and coordinating the multivenue, multiday sporting event which will take place at Volunteer Landing, Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville Convention Center, and World’s Fair Exhibition Hall. 

The Visit Knoxville Kickoff Party presented by TNT Fireworks is happening on March 23 at the Knoxville Convention Center Outdoor Plaza Terrace. All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, see the Visit Knoxville page.