Orange County tournament fishermen have enjoyed an incredible start to
2020 thus far.Last week veteran FLW pro, Tommy Dickerson finished second
on Rayburn and added another $30,000 to the $300,000 career earnings he
has amassed on the FLW circuit.

More important than the big pay day, Dickerson’s second place finish
earned him an early qualification for the year-end championship
event.Rayburn has been slow to give up the usual numbers of heavy weight
pre-spawn bass that are game changers thus far, but the Orange pro put
together a consistent pattern early on and very nearly pulled off his
fourth win the final day.

His 18-0-pound bag topped the second best catch posted by the rest of
the field on the final day by five pounds.I was also a little surprised
that he was the only Texas pro to finish in the top ten.

For Lamar State College Orange bass fishermen, Bret Fregia and Jack
Tindell, waiting out the final results proved more stressful than
putting together a quality five fish stringer of bass.They weighed in a
solid team stringer weighing 13 pounds 10-ounces vaulting them all the
way up to fourth place early on and were then forced to sweat out every
catch over the next two hours.

When all was said and done, the pair had slipped into the tenth spot,
but it was still worthy of celebratory high fives as 12 of the 250 teams
qualified for the Bassmaster College Championship.Tindell and Fregia
posted double digit catches both days to finish with 30-pounds 8 ounces.

On the high school level, a pair of LCM anglers made their mark as well
by finishing sixth out of 200 teams competing on Toledo Bend.Brendon
Brones and Dakota Posey weighed in a 14-pound 6 ounce catch only four
pounds off the winning mark.

And, while Orange County anglers are off to an incredible start in 2020,
no team in Texas is hotter than Atascocita High School anglers, Maverick
Winford and Ian Ratliff.The duo won the BASS sanctioned team event last
week on Rayburn only to post an 18-pound 4-ounce catch on Toledo Bend
and capture their second title in a row!

“We have a small pretty tight-mouth group of fishermen up here and we
share very little information as to what we are catching, but our big
bass bite has been a little slower so far”, said Jason Teal. Teal lives
on the north end of Toledo Bend and to my knowledge has never fished
south of Pendleton Bridge.

“Our big fish bite starts earlier than it does below the bridge,” said
Teal, “and the biggest reason is shallower water that warms much
faster.”Because he seldom fishes water over seven feet deep, his two
favorite lures are a spinnerbait and a spinnerbait!

The group’s biggest fear is that their coveted portion of the massive
impoundment will get over-pressured if folks ever find out how many
double-digit bass they catch, but from past experience, I can’t see that
ever happening.

Jason showed me around that portion of the lake when I first started
guiding in the early 70’s and I still went through at least two lower
units a year.The timber has been reduced to flooded stumps, but they are
no less close together and equally unforgiving.Coupled with the fact
that crudely cut trails usually led you on top of an unexpected ridge,
even short boat rides were perilous at best!

I mention talking with Teal only because he offered a valid opinion as
to why they haven’t caught more big bass thus far.He thinks the bite has
just been slowed down temporarily due to lots of cold rain water.“Three
weeks ago we were fishing some 59 degree water, but the same spots last
Friday were 53 degrees and the water was much dirtier. If weather
conditions change drastically in the middle of the spawn, a lot of those
big females will simply abort the spawn and seek out more comfortable water.

That is not a problem common to the south end of the lake, simply
because the coveted females can spawn so close to much deeper water and
a short temporary move solves the problem.Eddie Hudson said he caught
some solid bass drop shotting under a huge ball of shad on the south end
last weekend.

The surface temperature had taken a hit and both the bait and the fish
were holding deeper than expected. A few days of warmer weather will
change all of that!