Bend Bonanza — Keys for bass fishing the Toledo Bend spawn

Toledo Bend has already been pumping out 10-pounders this year, but there’s no better time to catch lunker bass than this month.

Half-ounce Rat-L-Traps were about as rare from Alexandria west to Toledo Bend last month as a Republican at an Obama rally.

The reason was simple: Toledo Bend was turning out 10-pound bass on a regular basis.

During the first two months of the year, the lake already had produced 13 bass ranging in weight from 10 pounds to a tad less than 13 pounds.

And candy craw, cherry bomb and red shad Traps ripped through submerged grass were responsible for many of those monster fish.

“It has just been phenomenal,” said Leesville’s Darold Gleason, who guides on the reservoir. “Toledo Bend is just great for bass fishing right now, and as of February it looks like we’re going to have more than the total (number of lunkers) entered last year into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.”

Gleason is intimately familiar with the lake, as he’s boated a dozen bass topping 9 pounds ­— including three 10-pounders landed in 2007, an 11.2-pound bass caught in 2009 and an 10-pounder last November.

And April is when the fishing should really break out.

But it’s not only about 10-pounders.

For example, the 31-year-old Gleason pointed to an April 2013 trip on Toledo Bend that featured partly cloudy skies and temperatures climbing from 60 to 80 degrees.

“We started by fishing the Hausen area, and we were throwing reaction baits — V&M Cyclone Classic ½-ounce spinnerbaits,” he said. “I caught a couple of keepers — 2 ½- and 3- pounders. Some up to 4 pounds were also taken later on a Strike King KVD jerk bait.

“At about 10 a.m., the winds laid down as the clouds broke and the waters became slick.”

So he changed tactics.

“I switched to a V&M Pork Shad and threw it on a light Carolina rig with an 18-inch leader in 6 to 10 feet of water in a spawning area,” Gleason said. “I caught my biggest fish that day — an 8 ½ pounder.”

The key was how they were fishing.

“We were working the Carolina rig as slow as we could, and we also caught some 5- to 5 ½-pounders there,” he said. “By the end of the day, our best five bass went over 30 pounds, although we caught about 40 to 50 keepers.”

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Dennis Tietje of Roanoke said Toledo Bend has everything it needs to produce quality fishing.

“I think those fish are in really good condition right now,” Tietje said. “There’s a good bit of shad on the lake and the grass is returning. The habitat is perfect for these big fish to really grow and survive well.

“We’re also seeing a tremendous number of 4 pounders, and it will be common to take tournament stringers over 30 pounds.”

Of course, the big fish are what every angler ­— including pros like Tietje — dream about. And he got his chance on Feb. 13, when he landed a bass eligible for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.

Tietje caught the lunker on a Strke King heavy-hooked football jig with a Rage Craw chunk trailer.

“I caught the fish around 11 a.m.,” he said. “I was just following a deep grassline in Hausen and casting that football jig.

“I was fishing real slow and paying attention to details.”

At the turn of the creek, Tietje made few casts, hopping the jig.

“I felt the fish hit and knew it was a good one,” Tietje said. “The fish was aggressive.

“It was not a real long fight ­— just enough to get my heart pumped.”

The 10.05-pounder, which measured 21 ½ inches long, was released after being officially weighed.

“I placed the bass in the livewell and brought her in to get weighed and tagged. After that, I carried her back to the lake and released her.”

And the cold weather that has reigned this winter should make for some great fishing this month.

“This cold weather we experienced during the winter here should extend the spawn well into April,” Gleason said. “In early April, you’ll probably see all three phases of the spawn still going on in Toledo Bend.

“There’s a strong possibility you’ll still catch prespawners and spawners for sure, and there will also be some post-spawners feeding, as well.”

Gleason said prime big-fish targets for April and May should include the Indian Mounds area, Hausen, Six Mile, both sides of Toro Bay, the Mill Creek area and Indian Creek.

“In these locations, I have been very successful fishing reaction baits in the morning,” Gleason said. “You want to cover some water early to find them, so keep your foot on the trolling motor early.”

By reaction baits, Gleason means casting ½-ounce or ¾-ounce red shad Rat-L-Traps, V&M Cyclone Classic ½-ounce spinnerbaits, Strike King KVD jerk baits and V&M Pacemaker Pulse Swim Jigs.

“Also, some of the fish are still spawning, so you can sight-fish for them with white creature baits because they are visible,” Gleason said. “You can know when the bass takes the bait.”

The guide said bass might still be in 15- to 20-foot depths on humps and submerged grass.

“Depending on the wind, I will use ½-ounce or ¾-ounce V&M Flatline jigs with their Swamp Hogs as a trailer,” Gleason said. “And I will also throw that V&M Pork Shad on a Carolina rig with an 18-inch leader.

“Both of these baits will be used after the reaction bite turns off when the sun is up later in the day.”

Another popular technique for this time of the year is to cast wacky worms in these areas.

“I’ll use V&M Chopsticks and Trikster worms when fishing this way, and I tend to stay with green pumpkin and watermelon colors,” Gleason said.

He said the quality fish coming out of the lake this year is nothing but good news because even if an angler leaves without a 10-pounder he’ll have a blast.

“Right now, the Toledo Bend Lunker Program is making this fishery stand out, but there are many quality fish we’ve been taking in the 3- to 6-pound range, as well,” Gleason said.

Editor’s note: Gleason can be contacted at 337-397-8860 or on the Web at

About Chris Berzas 368 Articles
Chris Berzas has fished and hunted in the Bayou State ever since he could hold a rod and shoot a shotgun. Berzas has been a freelancer featured in newspapers, magazines, television and DVDs since 1989.