Bass tournaments big splash on Rayburn, Toledo
Once again Mother Nature did her best to make life miserable for both fresh and saltwater fishermen this past weekend, but the tournament fishermen prevailed. Folks from all over the world spent three days hunting one big bass in the McDonalds Big Bass Splash on Rayburn while the top pros on the Bassmaster Elite series dissected Toledo Bend. Even the saltwater tournament fishermen got in their licks right here at home fishing the second Tail Chasers event of the year on Sabine.
Robert Laird of Livingston proved persistence can be rewarding as he hit the big casino on his twentieth trip to the annual spring event. His 10.74 pound bass earned him a new fully rigged bass boat and truck to boot. Local angler, Bob Sims wasn’t far off the pace as finished in fifth place with an 8.98-pound bass. Sims won a Stealth ATV and $2,000 for his efforts.
Robert Moore will also be upgrading his fishing gear at an Academy Store in the very near future. The Orangefield youngster earned $150 in gift cards with a first and third place fish in the crappie division of the Little Anglers competition.
The Who’s Who of the professional bass fishing world were all over Toledo Bend this past weekend trying to make the final cut in the Bassmaster Elite tournament held out of Many, La. It was also obvious that lots of fishing enthusiasts wanted to see the bass fishing stars up close and personal as a number of the pros commented that the weigh-in crowds were the largest they have seen at any Elite Series event.
When all was said and done, Dean Rojas led from wire to wire in holding off Gerald Swindle to win by one ounce.Most of the winning catches were won with Swim baits and Top waters. The pros took advantage of bass chasing shad in pockets of moss and by targeting bedding fish.
Most of the field made long runs both north and south from the Pendleton Bridge area each day in spite of winds that would keep the average angler cleaning up around the camp each day. Coupled with the extremely low lake level, every ride was a potential show stopper as the whitecaps masked the countless stumps that weren’t above the surface this time last year.
Ish Monroe, a California native, celebrated his good fortune by roaring into the weigh-in line with only seconds to go with the largest bass of the tournament on the second day, but he was very fortunate to even make it back at all. I can understand fishing right up until the last minute, but he knew what kind of conditions he was facing for the return trip and still pushed the envelope.
His thirty-five minute window shrunk to less than 25 minutes when he pitched a lizard against a submerged piling one more time and stuck a 10 pound 15 ounce bass. With no other choice than to pressure her away from the pilings and take his chances with a break off, he winched her to the surface and threw her in the live well.
In his haste to get back he took a five foot wave over the front of his boat that washed $10,000 worth of rods and tackle over the side. Several of the rod and reel combinations were irreplaceable. He later commented that he had just created the most expensive brush pile on Toledo Bend!
The wind was no less of a problem on Rayburn for both fishermen and rescue teams alike. The problems ranged from swamped boats to bass boats wedged atop unseen shallow sandbars. It was a non-stop effort for the rescue teams as they reported fishermen getting stuck on the same sandbar while they were trying to free up another boat.
Back on the home front, local anglers fishing the second Tail Chasers event of the year caught a break early, but had to deal with their own issues with the wind later in the day. Once again, the jetties proved to be the best option as most of the lake was blown out.
The format is a little different, but it has proven to be very popular with the teams that have fished the first two events. Each team can weigh in two reds, two trout and two flounder for their total weight. Damon Silva and Mike Braxton left the jetties early with a five and a six pound trout and two slot reds before upgrading in the river. They added a flounder and culled both reds to win the tournament with 23.91-pounds.
Their first place finish was worth $660 and the side pot for the redfish with the most spots paid another lucky team an additional $190. Damon Silva reported that they were very pleased to have 22 teams enter again with everything that was going on this past week. “The club membership has already grown to 80 members in less than two months!”
For more information you can check them out on the internet at www.triangletailchasers.com.