Sam Rayburn, T-Bend make nation’s Top 10 for bass

Two East Texas lakes are ranked as the Top 10 best in the nation — Sam Rayburn a

The second annual list ranking the country’s best bass lakes has been released by Bassmaster Magazine, and Sam Rayburn is ranked No. 2 with Toledo Bend at 10.

Michigan’s Lake St. Clair took the No. 1 spot, while Falcon Lake in South Texas, which was last year’s No.1, fell to seventh. Clear Lake (Calif.), Lake Guntersville (Ala.), and Lake Erie took third through fifth. Lake Okeechobee (Fla.), San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) and Toledo Bend Reservoir (Texas) round out the Top 10.

“It is truly amazing how much a fishery can change in the span of 12 months,” said Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall. “Most bass anglers, including me, figured Falcon would be ranked No. 1 for the next decade. However, the fishing there has been tough because of drought and fishing pressure. And based on the metrics we use to create the list then rank the lakes, Lake St. Clair deserved the title of best bass lake in America.”

St. Clair’s smallmouth population is legendary, but it is the emergence of its largemouth fishery that solidified its No. 1 ranking.

“Elite Series pro Jason Christie won the most recent B.A.S.S. event there with a three-day total of 67-4,” said Cara Clark with BASS. “But the most astounding fact from that July tournament was that 135 of the 147 pro anglers boated five-fish limits every day, with more than 2 tons of bass being weighed in.”

Clark says that the metrics used to create the rankings included catch rate and shock data from state wildlife agencies; a survey of B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and presidents based on tournaments held across the country; and a survey of 3,500 B.A.S.S. members across the country to detail non-tournament lakes. To finalize the rankings, Bassmaster enlisted a panel of outdoor writers, Elite Series pros and fishing industry insiders.

“The process is as all-encompassing and data-driven as we can make it. Our goal is to identify the hottest lakes in the country so fishermen don’t have to worry about doing the research,” Hall said. “An angler can look at this list and know that the lakes are very healthy, and the odds of having a fantastic day on the water are high.”

“One of the biggest jumps was Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee,” Hall said. “That body of water is on fire right now with 40-pound limits being caught. It was 61st last year, and climbed to the sixth spot this year.”

The problem with some previously ranked lakes in Texas is that the drought has dropped water levels to historic lows. Case in point is Amistad in West Texas.

Low water levels are making new lake hazards for boaters on Amistad. As a result of the record low water levels, there will be an increasing number of islands and peninsulas appearing throughout the lake. Even seasoned boaters who were on Amistad in 1998, when the lake reached its record low of 58.63 feet below level, are not entirely prepared for what may be appearing just below the surface of the lake in the coming weeks and months. An example is the old Devils Lake Dam (at Rough Canyon on the Devils River), constructed in 1928. As of April 22 it was only 16 feet below the surface of the lake. The roof of the powerhouse for the old Devils Lake Dam was just starting to appear at the surface of the lake as of April 22.

Browning wins Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River

Catching last-minute fish has become a habit for Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Stephen Browning in tournaments lately; last weekend, it paid off in a victory on the Red River.

The Arkansas pro jumped from the 12th spot to first place on the final day. Catching a total weight of 16-pounds, 10-ounces earned Browning a $40,000 Triton/Mercury rig and $7,979 in cash.

Browning said he had some bites in the morning at his first stop, but he later made a long run. When he went two and a half hours without catching anything, Browning decided to run back to his first spot.

“It was on there,” he said. “We caught them and caught them and caught them, and I was kicking myself in the rear end the whole drive over to the weigh-in.”

“The key was a simple bait change. I should have had 20 pounds on Saturday, but I lost some big ones. This morning (Sunday) I lost two big ones, and I thought something was not right.”

Browning had been using a sexy shad square bill crankbait but decided to try another brand of the square bill in the same size and color.

“I guess it just had a different wobble to it because they just choked it,” he said.

Retrieving the crankbait at high speed in an erratic fashion, Browning keyed on driftwood laydowns 3- to 5-feet-deep close to sandbar drops. “I crashed it into everything I could possibly crash it into,” he said.

Most of his strikes came after the lure deflected off the wood. Earlier in the week, Browning caught some of his keepers on a Z-Man Chatterbait.

The big bass winners of the tournament were David Sherrer in the pro division with an 8-1 largemouth, and Russell Rogers in the co-angler division with a 6-2.

NRA will host nine acres of guns, gear and outfitters May 3-5 in Houston

The National Rifle Association will host this year’s Annual Meetings and Exhibits, to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston from May 3-5.

Seventy thousand attendees are expected at this year’s Annual Meetings and Exhibits, making this one of the largest in NRA’s 142-year history. Leading firearm manufacturers will display the firearm industry’s latest and greatest products. Guides and outfitters, various hunting and shooting accessories, and an extensive private collection displayed by NRA-affiliated gun collector clubs will fill nine acres of convention space.

NRA Country will present NRA Country Jam III on the third floor of the Houston convention center Friday, May 3. This year’s headlining act is the Eli Young Band. Doors will open at 6 p.m. NRA Country Jam III benefits the Folds of Honor Foundation, an organization that provides support services to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country.

NRA offers seminars throughout the three-day convention, including Methods of Concealed, Gun Dog & Retriever Training and Defensive Shooting Skill Development.

For more information, including event tickets, visit