UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Eufaula

Johnston continues Texas Division domination

Johnston continues Texas Division domination
Current Texas Division Stren Series points leader Stephen Johnston of nearby Hemphill, Texas looks like he is serious about capturing the Texas Division points title. Today he raised his ante in the points race by taking the day-one lead at Toledo Bend with a whopping 24-13.

HEMPHILL, Texas - Perhaps the only thing hotter than a Texas sun beating down on Toledo Bend Reservoir in June is local pro Stephen Johnston beating down on bass on Toledo Bend - or anywhere else in Texas for that matter.

Hemphill native Johnston kicked the 2007 Stren Series Texas Division season off with a win at Sam Rayburn in February and then followed that up with a fifth-place finish at Amistad in March.

Those two finishes put Johnston solidly in the lead for the Texas Division points race midway through the season.

Today, Johnston announced his intention to claim that points title by laying 24 pounds, 13 ounces of Toledo Bend bass on the scales to take the early lead in stop No. 3, which just happens to be on his home lake.

His catch included an 8-pound, 8-ounce bass, which tied for big bass of the day, and a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass.

"Given my points lead and the fact that the lake has been higher than normal - which has the fish acting a little funny - I did put some extra time in for practice," Johnston said. "I took six days off from guiding and went out without clients so I could focus on finding some new stuff."

Ironically, though, the "new stuff" Johnston found had very little to do with his catch today. Instead, he spent his practice time building a strategy designed to work around the McDonald's Big Bass Splash, a huge annual tournament on Toledo Bend that brings in as many as 1,500 boats to the lake and begins Friday.

"I've guided on Toledo Bend 18 years, and I know firsthand what having that many boats on this lake does to the bite, especially the big-fish bite," Johnston explained. "So I spent six days purposely looking for out-of-the-way places that hold 3-pounders."

Johnston's giant catch today actually came from places he calls "community holes," in 15 to 25 feet of water.

"My plan going into this tournament has been to fish the community holes for all they're worth on Wednesday and Thursday and then let the other tournaments have them on Friday," he said. "At that point, I'll resort to my off-the-beaten-path places I found during practice."

Reneau second

Tim Reneau of Seguin, Texas, brought in five bass for 23 pounds, 3 ounces today Pro Tim Reneau of Seguin, Texas brought in five bass for 23 pounds, 3 ounces today to begin the event in second place.to begin the event in second place.

Reneau noted that he is fishing fast and running a lot of water to catch his fish from waters up to 25 feet deep.

"I'm not really fishing on one spot or area," he said. "I'm just covering a lot of water, trying to generate strikes. When I catch one, it's usually a good fish, but I'm not getting many bites at all. I only caught seven keepers today.

"My biggest problem is I only have one way to catch them," he continued. "I wish I had a couple of limit spots, where I could catch a limit of 2-pounders to back myself up. Once that other tournament gets going out here on Friday, this lake will be a completely different place, and the way I'm fishing could get tough."

Martin third

Local legend Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas brought in five bass for 22 pounds, 7 ounces on day one for third place.Local legend Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, brought in five bass for 22 pounds, 7 ounces today to land in third place.

Martin has guided on Toledo Bend for 35 years, so he knows a thing or two about the lake.

"I'm catching them deep - 18 to 27 feet - on natural structure, not on grass," Martin said. "I've been running some of my old places and vertically jigging down in the timber and structure."

Martin, too, is worried about the impending Big Bass Splash event coming Friday.

"That's really going to saturate the lake with boats," Martin said. "It doesn't seem possible on a lake this size, but the number of boats that come here for that event is astonishing, and it's going to cut my number of places to fish way down. I'll say right now my hat is off to the guy who wins this event, because it's going to be a real challenge here on Friday and Saturday."

Cecil, Strickland tied for fourth

Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, and James Strickland of Jasper, Texas,Pro Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas weighed in 20-12 on day one to tie for fourth.
both caught five bass for 20 pounds, 12 ounces to start the Toledo Bend Stren event tied for fourth place.

Due to the impending tournament on Friday, Cecil said he purposely fished his best places as hard as he could with no intention of saving anything.

He is fishing the outsides of the deep grass in 17 to 18 feet with a Lake Fork Baby Ring Fry and Big Bite creature.

"Since these Stren events are cumulative-weight events, and there will be some 1,200 to 1,500 boats out here on Friday and Saturday, I decided to get all I can out of the community spots," Cecil added. "I've got some more inconspicuous places I'm trying to save for Friday, but with that many boats out here, I don't know that anything will be safe."

Strickland, too, is fishing deeper grass in the 14- to 16-foot range, but he is using a jig.

"I'm fishing a big flat, and the fish are grouped up in little wads out there," he said. "I caught my three biggest fish first thing this morning on three consecutive casts."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series on Toledo Bend:

6th: Stan Burgay of Timpson, Texas, five bass, 19-3. Burgay also tied Johnston for the Snickers Big Bass of the day, weighing 8-8.
7th: Glen Freeman of Converse, La., five bass, 16-9
7th: Shane Gibson of Kilgore, Texas, five bass, 16-9
9th: Yarri Schreibvogel of Sam Rayburn, Texas, five bass, 16-4
10th: Dicky Newberry of Houston, five bass, 15-3

Schubert leads co-anglers

Wesley Schubert of Conroe, Texas leads the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series event on Toledo Bend with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce.Wesley Schubert of Conroe, Texas, leads the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series event on Toledo Bend with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce.

Schubert used a Carolina rig in deep grass to boat his leading catch.

"I caught my last keeper at 12:30 and put my rod down to just stay out of my pro's way," said Schubert, who fished with pro Dustin Grice.

Rest of the best

In second place with 14 pounds, 6 ounces is Blake Martin of Hemphill, Texas, who happens to be the son of pro Tommy Martin.

John Moon of Brookeland, Texas, is in third place with five bass for 13 pounds, 11 ounces.

Bob Propst of Cedar Hill, Texas, is in fourth place with five bass for 12 pounds, and Jacob Brown of Clyde, Texas, is in fifth place with 11 pounds, 15 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Stren event on Toledo Bend:

6th: Trent Durst of Longview, Texas, five bass, 11-10
7th: Marty Sugg of Pattonville, Texas, five bass, 11-8
8th: John Ellender of Hemphill, Texas, five bass, 10-13
9th: Toby Wallace of Tolar, Texas, five bass, 10-3
10th: Ronny Webb of Dyersburg, Tenn., five bass, 10-2

Big bass

Ellender (8th) weighed in the Snickers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division for 8 pounds, 4 ounces.

Day two of the Stren Series on Toledo Bend begins at 6 a.m. Thursday at Frontier Park and Marina located at 360 Frontier Drive in Hemphill, Texas.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2007-06-20-toledo-bend 

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