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Top 10 Patterns from Rayburn

Top 10 Patterns from Rayburn
Several boats were tucking into heavy cover.

If it’s always easy, anyone can catch 'em; but when meteorological mayhem crashes the party, only those who make the right adjustments and work within the realities of what’s occurring will fare well. That’s the story of Ricky Guy’s victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division opener – presented by Mercury – on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which was an event plagued by post-frontal conditions left by a major storm system that lashed the Gulf Coast states earlier in the week.

The Humble, Texas, pro entered the final round with a 6-pound lead over Rayburn stick Chris McCall. With cold nights, bright skies and high pressure disrupting the spawning slugfest anglers had enjoyed prior to the front, the day-three weights declined for most. Guy did not escape the vexation, but he leveraged what was available to him and pulled out the win by a margin of 1-11.

Other finalists experienced varying levels of productivity. Here are the details on their patterns, as revealed after the final weigh-in Saturday.

Ricky Guy’s winning pattern

Top 10 baits from Rayburn

Complete results

 

2. Martin flips his way into second

Improving from fifth place to second, Nacogdoches, Texas, pro Lendell Martin Jr. was the only angler to break 20 pounds on day three. His limit of 20-5 was his second of more than 20 pounds (he weighed 22-10 on day two). Adding 16-9 from day one yielded a second-place total of 59-8.

Acknowledging the weather’s influence on tournament conditions, Martin says Rayburn’s abundance still made for an impressive showing.

“The lake is full of fish, and you can catch them however you want to catch them,” Martin says.

Focusing on shallow cover (buck brush and cypress trees) in the lake’s north end, Martin opted for shallow pitching with a black/blue Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog with 5/16-ounce weight and a 1/2-ounce jig with a black/blue Zoom Super Chunk trailer. The latter served a somewhat unintentional double duty.

“I caught a lot of fish swimming that jig,” Martin adds. “They either grabbed it when it fell or in probably the first few feet. I caught two or three today [Saturday] just swimming the jig over a laydown and swimming it back to the boat.

“Two times, I had a big one blow up on my jig, and then I pitched back in there and he grabbed it again.”

Martin says he fared best on drains and cuts, points, and isolated cover such as a handful of cypress trees on the edge of flooded brush. Perhaps counterintuitive to the notion of flipping cover, Martin actually felt less confident with the denser areas.

“It seemed like if you had a whole lot of cover, you had to wait too long to get a bite,” Martin explains. “The less cover, the easier it was to pinpoint the fish.”

 

3. Rambo picks through big numbers

Cory Rambo got off to a strong start with 23-9 on day one and 18-1 on day two. The final round saw the Orange, Texas, pro struggle with lots of missed Caroline-rig bites — probably a case of fish grabbing the weight, he suspects.

“Everything went as planned the first day,” Rambo says. “On day two, I had to go to Plan B, and on day three I was way down there [on the list of options].”

On the first day, Rambo caught his fish on a 6th Sense Snatch lipless crankbait in the new Rambo red color. The next day his lipless bite died, so he went to a Carolina-rigged green pumpkin lizard. The C-rig produced a few bites on day three, but Rambo relied more on a 3/4-ounce Missile Baits football-head jig and a green pumpkin Big Bite Baits craw.

In the mornings, Rambo started on a rocky island close to the takeoff area and then progressed to classic prespawn staging areas such as grassy edges and points heading into spawning pockets. Adding 13-13 in the final round gave him a total weight of 55-7.

 

Kris Wilson cracked 27-10 on day one to jump into the lead.

4. Wilson drags into fourth

Clearly benefitting from his massive day-one bag that went 27-10 — the event’s heaviest single-day catch — Kris Wilson of Montgomery, Texas, struggled the next two days with smaller limits of 12-5 and 15-2 and ended with a total weight of 55-1.

Wilson had located a key area in Rayburn’s upper end where he found a pile of hefty females staging near hay grass. When the front’s high pressure and calm winds imposed upon the fish’s comfort, that deal simply died.

“I was catching them good the first day, but the next two days those big fish vanished,” Wilson says. “There were a lot of keepers, just small fish.”

Wilson caught 90 percent of his fish on a Carolina rig with a 1/2-ounce weight and a green pumpkin Big Bite Baits lizard. He also picked up a few keepers on a 1/2-ounce football jig with a green pumpkin craw worm.

 

Chris McCall is a Rayburn stick and he put up 24-3 on day one for third.

5. McCall’s Trap bite withers

Making his home just minutes from Rayburn’s southern shores, Walmart FLW Tour pro Chris McCall says his swing-for-the-fences game plan might’ve been a little misguided, given the week’s weather scenario.

“I did things a little differently this time — I tried to practice to win,” McCall says. “Not that I don’t always want to win, but I normally practice to do well. This tournament, I did something I don’t normally do — I tried to mix some deep stuff with my Rat-L-Trap bite.

“The first two days, I weighed probably 50/50 [deep bites and Rat-L-Trap bites], but on day three, nobody showed up where I needed them to be.”

On days one and two, McCall fished a 1/2-ounce bleeding shad Rat-L-Trap and a chartreuse/blue Strike King 6XD. In the final round, the Brookeland, Texas, resident had to scramble and finally found success returning to the 7/16-ounce Santone swim jig that had been producing prior to the front. He fitted the jig with a white Gambler Burner Craw.

After posting 24-3 on day one, McCall followed with 19-8 on day two. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the big bites on day three and settled for a small limit of 10-3 and a total weight of 53-14.

 

6. Baker mixes cranking and rigging

With only two prior Rayburn visits, Joel Baker knew he had to dial in his game plan, so he did his homework. The result was a solid performance with daily limits of 19-4, 19-9 and 14-6, giving the Talala, Okla., pro a sixth-place total of 53-3.

“I plugged in the Navionics chip and started studying the lake and quickly found a Carolina-rig deal,” Bakers says of his primary pattern. “I would study the lake on my iPad and then put the coordinates into my [boat’s] electronics.

“I’d then go idle. I’d idle for hours across the lake. That’s how I located my spots.”

Baker fished his C-rig with a green pumpkin Zoom lizard. He also flipped a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver (road kill color) and threw a Rapala DT16 (Caribbean shad color). The latter produced his largest two fish on day one.

“I found a large flat that had a lot of wood — really big timber in 12 feet of water,” Baker adds. “You had to have trees, laydowns and stumps. It was just a huge area, and I fished all of it I could.”

 

7. Caldemeyer targets prespawners with swim jig

James Caldemeyer of Gilmer, Texas, knew what he wanted to do, and he knew what he was able to do. Reconciling those thoughts enabled him to turn in a consistent performance culminating in a seventh-place total of 53-3.

“I started off in practice flipping and looking for bed fish, probably like everyone else,” Caldemeyer says. “Looking at the forecast and seeing that weather heading in, I decided that wasn’t the route I wanted to go.

“I started targeting prespawn fish," he continues. "I found a couple of key areas that were holding good quality. I wasn’t getting a lot of bites, but they were quality fish.”

Caldemeyer caught the majority of his fish on peanut butter and jelly Santone swim jigs in 5/8- and 3/4-ounce sizes. He paired his jigs with a green pumpkin purple Berkley Havoc Pit Chunk trailer.

“I was alternating between them [the two sizes] because the wind would die down during the day,” explains Caldemeyer. “I used the 5/8 when it wasn’t as windy and the 3/4 when it was a little windier.”

 

8. Cecil diversifies C-rig looks

An accomplished sight-fisherman, Russell Cecil certainly would have preferred to be looking at his fish, but when the week’s weather woes took that card off the table, he played what he had available to him. The key, he says, was not getting rattled when circumstances became challenging.

“I’ve been here a lot of times, so it’s not like I didn’t know what to do,” says the Willis, Texas, pro. “I just thought it would be a little easier.

“I was pretty excited about the timing of this event, with the full moon [Monday before the tournament]. The fish were there last weekend, but they were gone after the front came through.”

Cecil, who finished eighth with 50-14, adjusted by pulling out of the spawning banks he had been fishing and targeting prespawn staging areas along hay-grass lines and points with a Carolina rig. He used a Big Bite Baits Swimming Mama (confusion color) to catch a limit and then switched to an 8-inch Big Bite Baits finesse worm in an effort to pick up a big kicker.

 

9. Mosley sticks with the bushes

When Brandon Mosley recognized the similarities in Rayburn’s flooded brush and some of the habitat he fishes back home on Fort Gibson Lake, the Choctaw, Okla., pro settled into a familiar routine and tallied a total weight of 50-6, which included a limit of 22-13 on day two.

Moseley caught all of his fish by flipping a NetBait Paca Craw with a 5/16- or 3/8-ounce weight, depending on depth and cover density. Locating a key area, he says, was intrinsic to his top-10 finish.

“I stumbled onto a stretch of spawning pockets that really nobody was messing with,” Mosley says. “I attribute it [the lack of fishing pressure] to the fact that it was some really flat water, with not a lot of channels going in. But there were still some subtle little things in there that set up those fish so you could cast to them.”

 

10. Cortiana throws punches on day three

Making his first appearance on Rayburn, Kyle Cortiana made a solid showing with a three-day total of 48-14. The Tulsa, Okla., pro says his debut on this east Texas impoundment afforded him the opportunity to work on a technique that’s new to him.

“I was punching all week, and I’ve never punched before,” Cortiana says. “In Oklahoma, we don’t have grass, and you can’t punch anything but people in a bar.

“I didn’t know how to do it, and apparently I was doing it wrong because I lost 20 fish today [Saturday]. Every day, I was getting 40 to 60 bites, but I didn’t know how to pull them out of that grass. They’re smarter than I am.”

Cortiana punched grass with the Gene Larew Punch Out Craw.

 

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Tags: sam-rayburn-reservoir  david-a-brown  post-tournament  2016-02-25-sam-rayburn-reservoir 

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