UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Many, La.

Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2020

Hosted by Sabine Parish Tourist Commission

 

About the fishery

Toledo Bend is a legendary reservoir that straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana. It spans some 65 miles along the impounded Sabine River, which runs north to south, and sprawls across about 185,000 acres at full pool. Though Toledo Bend has a number of major tributaries along its length, the bulk of the reservoir is its straight, wide-open main-lake span.

While Toledo Bend’s deepest water surpasses 100 feet and anglers frequently catch bass deeper than 20, it’s well-known for its shallow stump and timber fields that are home to some real giants. The fish benefit from Florida-strain genetics thanks to stocking programs and frequently surpass double-digits.

 

The biggest sack of the event pushed Russell Cecil into the lead at Toledo Bend.

Last time

The FLW Series hasn’t been to Toledo Bend since late March 2014. Russell Cecil won that tournament with a three-day weight of 61 pounds, 9 ounces, which included a massive 29-2 second-day limit. Cecil sight-fished with a Big Bite Baits WarMouth throughout the event.

Denny Brauer won the 2013 FLW Series event on Toledo Bend in mid-February with 56-8 in three days. Saddled by an injury and limited a little bit due to rough water, Brauer stayed close to takeoff and caught his fish on a Strike King Premier Pro-Model Jig around hydrilla.

Last season, FLW Pro Circuit rookie Darold Gleason, who guides on Toledo Bend, won a weather-shortened Bassmaster Open on his home lake in late February. He covered water, mixing it up with a Strike King 6XD, a V&M The Flatline Pacemaker Football Jig, a 6th Sense Cloud 9 C15 crankbait and a V&M Chopstick on a Carolina rig. Gleason’s two-day winning weight was 40-2.

Finally, the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Cowboy Division opened its 2019 season on Toledo Bend on Jan. 26. Local angler Cody Pitt won the tournament with 24-5 fishing a Strike King 6XD crankbait for prespawn fish in a creek channel and on the main lake.

While those tournaments are helpful for predicting winning weights in late winter and early spring, anglers will experience much different conditions on Toledo Bend in 2020.

 

Russell Cecil

What to expect this time

Recent extreme water-level fluctuations have left their mark on Toledo Bend. High water the last couple of springs hindered hydrilla growth, says Gleason. Then last year the lake was drawn down for dam maintenance, which more or less finished off the grass.

Toledo Bend is still low. The water level is currently at 165.58 feet above sea level. Full pool is 172 feet, which is where the lake stood one year ago. Anglers can monitor water levels on the Water Data for Texas website.

As a result of low water and the lack of grass, anglers will need to adjust their approach in the FLW Series event.

“The shallow fish are still going to get on shallow cover. They don’t have grass, so they’re going to relate to stumps and timber,” Gleason says. “There are deep prespawn fish as well. Generally, Toledo’s a great lake for guys to do what they’re good at. You can find the water to meet your preferences. It should be a good event if we don’t get cold, muddy water. I expect it to take close to the 20-pound range each day to win.”

Fellow guide Colby Miller, who’s frequented the FLW Series Southwestern Division the last few years, and FLW Pro Circuit standout Nick LeBrun agree with Gleason’s prediction. They all figure somewhere between 17 and 22 pounds per day will put an angler in the hunt for the win, while 13 to 14 pounds per day will make the cut.

 

Nick LeBrun

Baits and techniques

Deep, shallow and in between will all play on Toledo Bend. Offshore anglers will catch fish dragging football jigs or Carolina rigs, or cranking with deep plugs. Hard-bottom areas with stumps or brush will draw their focus.

Staging areas closer to spawning bays will most likely get even more attention from anglers. Bass should be set up on secondary points and creek channels or even on lead-in banks into spawning pockets. Rat-L-Traps and other lipless crankbaits might play, even though there’s little grass, and ChatterBaits, hollow swimbaits and square-bills will also work.

If conditions are right, LeBrun thinks we might even see some bass on beds, but it all depends on Mother Nature.

“The prespawners are going to be the biggest player,” he says. “If you have cold water temps still in the 50s, those prespawners are going to be piled up. If you get some warm nights, and that water’s in the upper 50s to 60s, you could have some going to the bank. It’s not uncommon to have an early wave of spawners hit if the water temp is high. If it’s a warming trend that week, guys shouldn’t be afraid to fish really shallow.”

 

Nick LeBrun

3 critical factors

1. Water levels and navigation – It’s critical in this tournament that boaters pay attention to the marked navigation channels. Stumps and timber outside these boat lanes pose serious risks at normal water levels, but with the reservoir still more than 6 feet low, the hazards are even greater. LeBrun and Gleason suggest idling to reach shallow areas outside the channel, even if it cuts into practice and fishing time.

2. The wind – With its wide-open layout, Toledo Bend can really get riled up in the wind. Anglers will need to account for increased travel time when planning on fishing areas far from takeoff. Likewise, it’s not always possible to zigzag through waves or navigate the calmest waters due to the need to stay in the boat lanes. Boaters should be prepared for windy situations.

3. Warming or cooling trends – The weather in the last week or so leading up to the tournament will dictate how this event shakes out. If it’s cold and blustery, LeBrun says the biggest bass will pile up together in prespawn staging areas to wait out the conditions. But as soon as it starts warming, they start working their way shallower.

Tags: toledo-bend  -nick-lebrun  -fishing  -winter  -texas  -lsu  curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament 

Iowa’s Riceville High School Wins 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on Mississippi River

Iowa’s Riceville High School Wins 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on Mississippi River

STODDARD, Wis. – Iowa’s Riceville High School duo of Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite brought a three-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 11 pounds, 2 ounces to win the 2020 TBF/FLW High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River in Stoddard, Wisconsin. Riceville’s three-day total of nine bass totaling 30-4 gave them the win by a 1... READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

“FLW Fishing” to Premiere on Outdoor Channel  Friday, July 3

“FLW Fishing” to Premiere on Outdoor Channel Friday, July 3

BENTON, Ky. – FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today the 2020 season of “FLW Fishing” will debut on the Outdoor Channel, Friday, July 3 (7 to 9 p.m. EDT)... READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

FLW Shifts Toyota Series Northern Event to Lake Erie

Due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, FLW will shift its July 9-11 Toyota Series Northern Division opener from the St. Lawrence River at Massena, N.Y., to Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio. READ MORE »

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

Okie Division Heads to Arkansas River

The Okie Division looks to end the month of June just how it started it – with back-to-back Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events. READ MORE »

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Checking Shallow and Deep with Hays

Dylan Hays has been fairly consistent throughout his four years as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, and he’s currently on pace to have his best season to date. He made the last two top-30 cuts and finished 31st at Rayburn to start the year, and because of his consistency, the Arkansas pro currently finds himself fifth in the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

Several Patterns in Play at Ouachita BFL

FLW has a long history of hosting multiple-day summertime tournaments on Lake Ouachita, where pros have to grind it out for three days in what are usually tough conditions. On June 27, when the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Arkie Division takes to Ouachita, the Natural State’s best bass anglers will need to game plan a little differently. With only one day to fish and a three-bass limit, they’ll have to swing for the fences with big-bass patterns to have a shot at winning. READ MORE »

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

Hoosier Division Kicks off with Doubleheader

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division starts its season with back-to-back tournaments on Indiana’s Lake Monroe June 27 and 28, and it’s looking like big bags will be on tap. READ MORE »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

HS Championship Will be a Frog-Fest

If you wanted to design the perfect frog-fishing tournament, you might host it at Guntersville or the Cal Delta, but you could also copy the agenda for the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis. READ MORE »

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

When the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks back up next week with the Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the famous lake isn’t the only reservoir available to pros in the event. If they want, pros will be able to run and lock up into Watts Bar Lake or down into Nickajack Lake. READ MORE »

North Carolina’s Madison High School Wins 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Smith Mountain Lake Open

North Carolina’s Madison High School Wins 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Smith Mountain Lake Open

HUDDLESTON, Va. – North Carolina’s Madison High School duo of Ransom Boone and Russell Moore brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces to win the 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Lake Smith Mountain Lake Open... READ MORE »

University of North Carolina-Charlotte Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Smith Mountain Lake

University of North Carolina-Charlotte Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Smith Mountain Lake

HUDDLESTON, Va. – The University of North Carolina-Charlotte team of Schaefer Dobbratz and Josh Cannon, both of Waxhaw, North Carolina, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Smith Mountain Lake event Sunday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces. The... READ MORE »

48-Pound Limit Weighed at FLW Zimbabwe Event

48-Pound Limit Weighed at FLW Zimbabwe Event

From the moment registration opened for the second year of FLW Zimbabwe competition, it was obvious that FLW was here to stay. With Zimbabweans Roger Cousens and Denis Todd winning the International Division titles at the Toyota Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in November 2019, and Roger having been awarded a pro berth to compete on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit in the USA in 2021, every aspiring angler was out to be the next in line. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Designed by Major League Fishing pro Skeet Reese, the Berkley PowerBait The Deal is a unique twin-tailed trailer that’s right at home on the back of a vibrating jig or a swim jig. The Deal comes in 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-inch versions (I tested the 4 1/2), all the standard colors and has already seen tournament success. READ MORE »

FLW Cancels 2020 High School Fishing Minicamps

FLW Cancels 2020 High School Fishing Minicamps

BENTON, Ky. – FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today the cancellation of the three High School Fishing minicamps that were to be held in conjunction with three 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events... READ MORE »

Livingston’s Cooper and West Liberty’s Adkins Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Dale Hollow Lake

Livingston’s Cooper and West Liberty’s Adkins Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Dale Hollow Lake

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Byrdstown with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Dale Hollow Lake events. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after the coronavirus pandemic... READ MORE »

Lexington’s Thomas Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on High Rock Lake, Earns Lucrative PHOENIX Bonus

Lexington’s Thomas Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on High Rock Lake, Earns Lucrative PHOENIX Bonus

SALISBURY, N.C. – Boater Jason Thomas of Lexington, North Carolina, earned the win Saturday at the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at High Rock Lake after bringing a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces. For his victory, Thomas earned a total of $11,794... READ MORE »

McAlester’s Eldridge and Bokchito’s Burkett Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Eufaula Lake

McAlester’s Eldridge and Bokchito’s Burkett Earn Wins at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Double-Header on Eufaula Lake

EUFAULA, Okla. – It was a double-header for bass anglers this past weekend in Eufaula with the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on Eufaula Lake events. FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, rescheduled the events after the coronavirus pandemic forced the organization... READ MORE »

Huntsville’s Barnett Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Indian Lake

Huntsville’s Barnett Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Indian Lake

LAKEVIEW, Ohio – Boater John Barnett of Huntsville, Ohio, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 13 pounds even to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Indian Lake in Lakeview, Ohio. For his victory, Barnett earned a total of $4,872... READ MORE »