This past weekend, professional and college-level bass anglers on Toledo Bend made it clear that this East Texas lake is still one of the best in Texas. They caught bass — big bass and lots of them. Could it be global warming in February? Or maybe it’s just that Toledo Bend is and has been a great bass fishing lake for decades. Whatever the explanation, one thing is certain – bass on big T-Bend are definitely not in a winter cold-water stupor.
Kevin Burks of Kountze won the co-angler division of this EverStart tourney on Saturday, Feb. 16, with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 36 pounds, 6 ounces. He took home a Ranger boat, motor and trailer.
Del Rio angler Denny Brauer weighed in a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds to win the pro division of this EverStart Series Texas Division event with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 56 pounds, 8 ounces. Brauer earned $27,137 and a Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower outboard motor.
Brauer says his win was definitely a struggle.
“I went through a lot of different emotions wondering if I was going to end up with enough weight to win,” said Brauer. “I am totally elated.”
This was Brauer’s first victory in FLW competition but he is no stranger to fishing success,” said Brady Bolin with the FLW tournaments. “Brauer recently retired from an outstanding career with the Bassmaster Elite Series and moved south to his present home in Del Rio. This is his second season fishing the EverStart Series and he is currently sitting in fourth place in the Texas division Angler of the Year race.”
Becoming one of the top professional bass anglers in the world is no easy chore. But it’s one that Brauer has accomplished over the past 30 years. It’s also helpful to be a little sneaky.
“All three days I fished boat docks and pretty much stayed on the lower end of the lake,” said Brauer. “I was covering a lot of docks but catching most of my fish where there was 5 to 10 feet of water underneath. I was pitching a 1/2-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer pro model jig in black and blue color on 25-pound-test line.
“I really didn’t see a lot of people out there doing what I was doing. That’s the neat thing about Toledo Bend. It’s such a good lake and there is so much cover that boat docks are not the premier player here. Most people ignore the docks. The fact that I had them all to myself probably enabled me to win the tournament.”
Finishing second was Dustin Grice with 15 bass weighing 53-12. Hemphill angler and Toledo Bend guide Stephen Johnston took third place with 11 bass weighing 46-6.
The heaviest bass in the pro division weighed 10 pounds, 6 ounces.
The heaviest bass in the co-angler division was caught by Casey Martin. She weighed 13 pounds, 1 ounce.
The FLW College Fishing Southern Conference tournament was also held last weekend on T-Bend. The LSU team of Richard Murdock and Beau Hadskey won this contest with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 13 ounces. The win earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Invitational tournament, according to Bolin.
“Last weekend my partner and I had some really good pre-fishing action going,” said Hadskey, a petroleum engineering major. “We were fishing up north and catching them pretty good. But today there were waves out there that were 4 feet tall. We chose to stay down on the south end of the lake where it was calmer and ended up doing all of our fishing between Mill Creek Bay and Six Mile Bay.
“We caught all of our fish in 6 feet of water or less today,” said Hadskey. “It wasn’t necessarily a grass bite, but we were mainly focusing on the side of points. It really didn’t matter where we were on the lake. We were catching them in the main lake and back in the coves. The key to our success was fishing the shallow areas along the sides of points. We didn’t catch many fish out on the points themselves, but once we got along the sides, we started getting bites.
“We were swimming a jig and using a lipless crankbait,” Hadskey added. “We looked for water that was a little bit off color because we weren’t getting as many bites in the clear water. The main baits that were producing for us were brightly colored chartreuse and crawfish patterns.”
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.