UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

Record Field Headed for Rayburn

Record Field Headed for Rayburn
Jason Bonds, Mat Downey

The Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division kicks off Thursday on Sam Rayburn. The tournament, which is presented by YETI, features a 225-boat field – the largest FLW Series to ever fish Big Sam – and the tournament should be a great start to the Southwestern Division’s season.

 

Last weekend’s Texas Team Trail event on Rayburn was a blowout where Phil Marks and Tim Reneau smashed a five-bass limit worth 37.04 pounds for the win and Brian Shook and Dale Jones took the runner-up spot with 30.07. It took more than 20 pounds to even be in the top 30, and the big Texas reservoir really showed off.

Texas hammers Todd Castledine and Chris McCall say the TTT event was a good precursor for this week’s FLW Series tournament, figuring the fishing will stay great.

“The water is warming up, the weather has been mild and I’ve seen this before – the lake is setting up,” says Castledine. “We’re starting to see some big weights in the local events, and I think we could be hitting this tournament at just the right time. This is going to be a really fun event. I normally would never say this, but I don’t think that 20 pounds a day is going to cut it in this one. There are so many big fish in Sam Rayburn that no lead is safe. A 33- or 34-pound limit is absolutely possible, especially the way the lake is setting up right now.”

McCall is almost as optimistic, and thinks that a few chilly days this week will only make the fishing better once game day rolls around.

“I think it’ll probably take 65 to 68 pounds to win,” says McCall. “It’s like 70 out now and today is just the calm before the storm. It’s almost identical to what they had happen last week. It’s fishing really good. I think it’s gonna be a wide-open tournament, they’re gonna catch them, there’s no doubt.”

Day one of the tournament is forecast to be cloudy with highs in the mid-70s – perfect fishing weather. Though the next two days are forecast to be wetter and cooler, the lows at night only barely graze the high 40s and it doesn’t look like a severe enough cooldown to really affect the bite.

 

Potential patterns

In recent years the Southwestern Division opener has involved some spawning fish, but it seems like this year should be all prespawn.

“I think there’s definitely some fish that have moved up shallow, and there are a bunch of fish still staged up,” says McCall. “It’s a combination of every phase, but I don’t believe there are any spawning. But, they want to move up really bad.”

Last year Castledine won with a final-day push that was keyed by some offshore fish, and both pros think that some truly deep bass will be a factor this week as well. Though there are plenty of fish in the grass and moving shallower, fishing closer to winter or summer haunts could be key for the eventual winner.

While fishing deep is likely to factor in to some big bags, it’s definitely possible to catch a big bag winding a lipless bait or flipping shallow as well. There’s such a good population of fish and such good cover in Rayburn these days that a big day can happen with almost any technique. But one big day likely won’t be enough to win this one – you’ll have to catch them three days in a row.

 

Tournament Details 

Format: All 225 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.

Takeoff Time: 7:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Umphrey Family Pavilion, 5438 RR 255, Brookeland, Texas 75931

Weigh-In Time: 3:00 p.m. CT

Weigh-In Location: Umphrey Family Pavilion

Complete details

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2018-02-15-lake-sam-rayburn 

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