Rayburn angler cranks up $125,000 worth of FLW bass

Pro angler Phil Marks

October is the month for some exceptional bass fishing on lakes within a quick-hit run from Beaumont, or for that matter, Southeast Texas in general. With each passing cold front, water temperatures on lakes like Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend drop into that magical zone that tells bass it’s time to chow down and fatten up for the lean winter months to come. The water temperature on both Rayburn and T-Bend is holding right at the 75 to 77 degree mark. That’s perfect for catching bass on topwater lures like a Stanley Ribbit or a Super Spook Jr.

Last weekend, bass fishing on Sam Rayburn was good enough to lead Dallas angler Phil Marks to a $125,000 payday with a final-day catch of bass weighing 32 pounds, 12 ounces. He finished 16 pounds, 5 ounces ahead of the second-place angler in the last tournament of the year for the FLW Tour.

“Marks’ five-bass limit Sunday gave him a total weight of 82 pounds to win the tournament and $125,000,” said Julie Huber with FLW. “The catch gave him the win in impressive fashion over Keith Combs of Huntington, who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 65-11 and earned him $25,710.”

Marks said his bass were caught on cranks and jigs in ditches and on main-lake flats.

“I was targeting ditches with main-lake flats, looking for subtle changes within the flats,” said Marks.

During practice, he found a high spot in the middle of a drain. That’s where he caught a 5- and 7-pounder in back-to-back casts on Saturday. Sunday, he caught four bass in 20 minutes in that same area.

“My key baits were the Strike King 6XD and a prototype Strike King 10XD,” said Marks. “The 10XD has the frame design of the 5XD and is designed to give off a lot of rattle and displace a lot of water. It’s a big bait designed to catch big bass. Four of my 20 bass were caught with the 10XD.”

On Sunday he caught three bass on the Strike King crankbaits and two on the Strike King 1-ounce football-head jig. His 8-pounder came on the 10XD.

Dove season is winding down

The season on doves in the North and Central zones will close on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The South Zone will be open through Sunday, Oct. 28.

Overall the dove season has been as good as predicted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. But it’s also been one that involved baited fields and hunters taking over their limit, according to Mike Cox with TPWD. And guess what? Game wardens were right there with those illegal hunters.

East Texas game wardens were patrolling when, just before sunset, they heard multiple shots coming from a wooded area. They made their way through the trees and observed three dove hunters having a great hunt but not retrieving the doves that fell into the woods. If they had, they would have found the two game wardens. After the wardens hid in the brush for about 30 minutes, one of the hunters announced to his friends, “I am done. I have 23.” The wardens looked at one another to make sure they both heard the same thing when the hunter yelled again, “I am done. I have 23 doves.”

The wardens took his word for it and announced their presence, separated the hunters, and discovered one with 20 doves, not 23. The other two hunters were within the daily bag limit.

One of the wardens walked the hunter who was over his limit back to the hunter’s truck to retrieve his license. At the truck, the warden observed dove feathers that appeared to be from earlier in the day. The warden made a statement to the hunter, “This morning’s hunt was good, wasn’t it?” The hunter promptly agreed that it was really good and then realized what he had done, and said, “Oh, no.” He admitted that he had also shot a limit in the morning. Citations were issued for exceeding the daily bag limit and failure to retrieve game.

And then there was the case that involved a dove hunting outfitter set up on a baited field.

Armed only with a tip about a website from an informant claiming an outfitter might be baiting a dove field, game wardens pieced together an investigation that led to several citations. After locating the hunting operator online, the wardens called to book a hunt.

“Imagine the outfitter’s surprise when his new customers showed up in game warden gear,” said Cox. “The operator admitted to spreading three yards of wheat seed down the middle of a 300-acre pasture with a tractor and frontend loader.”

Tickets were handed out for baiting and placing bait to attract doves.