UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

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 

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

You couldn’t choose just one word to describe Larry Nixon’s professional fishing career. But right now, if you had to try, the most applicable word might be “resiliency.” READ MORE »

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

We’re almost halfway through the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit schedule, which means we’re far enough along now for a little retrospective on what’s happened thus far. READ MORE »

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Ron Nelson, the Pro Circuit Angler of the Year leader and a renowned sight-fisherman, used a Keitech Swing Impact FAT for blind-fishing and sight-fishing at Martin and earned a runner-up finish. California’s Kevin Hugo took seventh at Lake Havasu and caught some of his biggest bass sight-fishing with a Little Creeper All American Trash Fish or Sunfish. Though the reasons why they settled on swimbaits varied, both pros can offer valuable lessons for any angler tackling a spawning scenario. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Martin

AOY Update: Lake Martin

Through three events of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, second-year pro and 2019 Polaris Rookie of the Year Ron Nelson remains atop the Angler of the Year standings after a second-place finish at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

FLW Live Schedule for Lake Martin

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop goes down this week at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Ala. Here's how you can watch the action live. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Results from the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu probably didn’t surprise any Western anglers who are familiar with the fishery. For folks in other parts of the country that might only have followed FLW’s early February events on the Colorado River reservoir, the tournament results might have opened some eyes to just how good the fishing can be on Havasu. Particularly on day one, the lake delivered, kicking out 12 limits of more than 20 pounds, including Tai Au’s limit of 26 pounds, 1 ounce. The success on day one resulted from a perfect storm of conditions for catching spawning bass on beds.  READ MORE »

Co-angler Farage Gets Win No. 5

Co-angler Farage Gets Win No. 5

If you weren’t already aware, you need to be paying attention to the name Jack Farage. This week, the Discovery Bay, Calif., co-angler won his fifth Toyota Series Western Division tournament since 2013 by catching 43 pounds, 3 ounces at Lake Havasu. For his latest win, Farage earned a Phoenix 518 Pro with a 115-hp Suzuki outboard. READ MORE »

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., weighed in a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 15 ounces today to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Toyota Series Western Division season opener on Lake Havasu. Au’s three-day total was 61-3.  READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Tournament leader Tai Au managed to stay in first place by recognizing key environmental factors and knowing when to change up his baits. Yesterday, four of the five bass that Au weighed in were bass he caught sight-fishing. Today, he didn’t look at any of the bass he brought to the scale. Au still managed to weigh in 18 pounds, 3 ounces, taking his two-day total to 44-4. He’s searching for his first FLW victory this week.  READ MORE »

FLW Postpones Abu Garcia College Fishing and High School Fishing Events in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

FLW Postpones Abu Garcia College Fishing and High School Fishing Events in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

BENTON, Ky. – FLW, the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, announced today the cancellation and postponement of multiple Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing events due to travel restrictions implemented by universities and... READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 2

After an afternoon and evening of intense rainfall yesterday, the Lake Havasu City area finally got a break from the precipitation today. But instead of rain, the anglers fishing the Toyota Series Western Division opener on Lake Havasu have had to deal with a stiff southerly wind that’s made it tough to sight-fish, some dirtier water in areas (particularly in the upper end) and a drop in water temperature of a couple of degrees. Not surprisingly of a post-frontal day, the fishing has been much more difficult so far on Friday.  READ MORE »

Major League Fishing and FLW Suspend Public Gatherings:

Major League Fishing and FLW Suspend Public Gatherings:

TULSA, Okla. - Major League Fishing and FLW announced the suspension of all public gatherings associated with their events through April 12, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made to safeguard the health and well... READ MORE »

Au Clobbers 26-1 for Havasu Lead

Au Clobbers 26-1 for Havasu Lead

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., took the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu with a five-bass limit that weighed 26 pounds, 1 ounce. Au heads up a roster of Western hammers that managed to tally 12 limits of more than 20 pounds today.  READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 1

The fishing is hot at Lake Havasu. By 9:30, many of the anglers we’d seen on the water for day one of the Toyota Series Western Division season opener already had limits or had kicker largemouths in the box. Most of those fish were caught off beds, with the majority being caught sight-fishing and the rest coming just by fishing through likely spawning areas. Others were caught out in front of spawning areas and around marinas. The fishing should only get better, too. Currently, there are scattered rain showers, but the sun is shining across many parts of the reservoir, making it a little easier to spot fish on beds.  READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Bradenton’s Batson Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Toho

Bradenton’s Batson Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Toho

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Boater Clay Batson of Bradenton, Florida, brought a huge five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 34 pounds, 8 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida. For his victory, Batson earned a total of... READ MORE »

Western Michigan University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Table Rock Lake

Western Michigan University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Table Rock Lake

BRANSON, Mo. – The Western Michigan University duo of Joshua Lopez of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and John Neubauer of Decatur, Michigan, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Table Rock Lake Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 5 ounces. The victory earned the Broncos... READ MORE »

Oklahoma’s Ketchum High School Wins 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Table Rock Lake Open

Oklahoma’s Ketchum High School Wins 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Table Rock Lake Open

BRANSON, Mo. – Oklahoma’s Ketchum High School duo of Parker Still and Austin Chandler brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 18 pounds even to win the 2020 FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Lake Table Rock Lake Open... READ MORE »