UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

Boats range along the banks. Later they will idle past the flag boat to start the day.

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level.

Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system.

“We got another 3 1/2 inches on Sunday, so that didn’t help,” says Rayburn guide Stephen Johnston, who finished in the top 10 at the first 2015 Texas Division event on Lake Amistad. “They have both generators wide open, and they’ve caught up with it a little bit. But in the next 36 to 48 hours, the weather forecast calls for another 3 to 7 inches of rain.”

On the upside, this gives bass a major habitat expansion, and those that have yet to spawn are taking advantage of the flooded habitat.

Notably, Walmart FLW Tour pro Jim Tutt points out that the cypress trees that normally play a key role in the Rayburn spawn are largely excluded because most are standing in water that is now deeper than what these Rayburn bass usually prefer for spawning.

High water has the anglers beaching their boats in the trees prior to takeoff.

The flooded habitat balances opportunity with significant challenges.

“The water is so far in the bushes that a lot of the bushes are in 9 feet of water, and that’s too deep to fish,” Johnston says. “A lot of the fish have gone through the bushes, past the hay grass and all the way up into the pine and sweet gum trees.

“When the fish get that far into the trees, it’s a battle just to get to them,” he adds. “You can look through there, and you can’t see the bank the water’s so far up. That’s great for the fish, but tough for us.”

Due to the turbid water, sight-fishing opportunities will be few and far between, but the lure of big bedding fish will no doubt draw many into a tedious, often tortuous gauntlet of scraping limbs, bumping stumps and dodging inhospitable forest inhabitants.

“There are so many snakes in there,” Johnston says. “Because everything is flooded, some days I’ve seen up to 30 snakes in the trees. You’re fighting the wasps. You’re fighting the [displaced] fire ants. You’re fighting the snakes. It’s a battle all the way around.”

Flipping and pitching jigs and Texas-rigged worms and creature baits will comprise most of the effort, and Johnston advises pushing hard for close presentations to the trees. Tight spacing will make the angles tough, but diligence is just as important as the right bait color.

Tutt says he’ll spend some time with his flipping stick, but he’ll also swim a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper on a weighted hook past some of the larger trees. More of a quality than quantity deal, this technique yielded a few in the 4- to 5-pound range in practice.

Several anglers had push poles on their decks – a clear sign of their intent to squeeze and squeak their way back into the really tight stuff.

“You have to be patient, because it can take you an hour to move 100 feet,” Tutt says. “It’s a big gamble. You can spend a lot of time trying to get back into these areas, but all you need is a few good fish and you can get well in a hurry.”

Now, not everyone will spend his day fighting the thicket. Some, such as Tim Reneau, feel they have a better chance of maximizing their time looking for postspawn fish by flipping the outside edges of the flooded vegetation.

Strike King pro Phil Marks has a two-stage game plan: He’ll look for a solid limit early by fishing a shallow bite with crankbaits and spinnerbaits, and then he’ll move out with deeper crankbaits and jigs to capitalize on postspawn fish.

Whatever plan anglers pursue, the first half of the day will be the critical period. Lake advisories are calling for winds of 30 mph and the likelihood of late-day storms.



Sunrise: 6:59 a.m.

Water Temperature: 68 degrees

Air Temperature at Launch: 71 degrees

Forecast High: 83 degrees

Weather Forecast: mostly cloudy with afternoon thunderstorms




All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Presenting Sponsor: Mercury

Host: Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce

Takeoff Time: 7:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Umphrey Family Pavilion, 5438 RR 255 West, Brookeland, Texas

Weigh-in Time:

Days 1 and 2: 3:00 p.m.

Day 3: 4 p.m.

Weigh-in Location:

Days 1 and 2: Umphrey Family Pavilion

Day 3: Walmart, 800 W Gibson St., Jasper, Texas

More Information

For complete details and updated information visit the Rayovac FLW Series tournament page. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

Tags: sam-rayburn  flw-series  david-a-brown  morning-story  2015-04-09-sam-rayburn-reservoir 


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