Finding less-pressured largemouths at Toledo Bend

Don’t think for a second that bedding bass in April won’t eat a plastic frog. Bass, including ones like this 6-pounder, crush them all day long in 2- to 5-foot depths around grass. This one couldn’t resist a Top Toad Ribbit.

Remember two keys to catching more bass on Toledo Bend during the month of April.

One, look for the shad spawn, which started in March and should be at its peak through April. Two, try one of my trusted, proven tactics of avoiding the “parking lot” in the creeks, coves and shotgun pockets to target bass on the main lake ridges, humps, flats and such.

Water conditions are shaping up good as far as warming temperatures and pool level, which has been above 170 and close to pool heading into spring as we get more rainfall.

The shad spawn is a significant happening that appeals to all bass anglers, especially those fishing tournaments. For two or three hours after sunrise the shad are bunched and very active, as are bass that feed on them.

Big ball of shad

Wherever there’s grass (or other structure when there’s no grass around), there’s a strong chance you’ll see the shad. The shad spawn will get stronger and better as the month goes along. If you can locate a big ball of shad early, that’s where you need to start. And stay with them as long as you catch fish.

After the morning rush is over, go to your normal deal — looking for dirt spots and fishing with soft plastics. My drill, my game plan if you will, this month will be to stay outside and distance myself from the crowd of boats scouring the shorelines of inside waters.

I’ll look for ridges, humps, flats, etc., in 2 to 8-foot depths around drains bass use as migratory routes on their way to the shallows. I know sooner or later fish will pull up, fish that haven’t been pressured.

Mostly, I’ll fish the lower end of the lake, which is generally clearer and deeper. There’s vegetation galore over most of the lake, especially the south end, except for Torro Bay and Indian Mound.

Where you do find grass on the ridges and stuff, anywhere for that matter, look for holes in the grass, light areas, that tip off the location of spawning beds.

Dead center

April is dead center in the middle of the spawn. It’s a time to slow down and feed them watermelon/red or green pumpkin/red soft plastics, Carolina-rigged or wacky-rigged Senkos, Flukes, grubs, trick worms, etc. For a change of pace, particularly in stained water, I’ll throw black a lot.

Yep, soft plastics are No.1 right now for me. I’ll still have a jerkbait, a lipless crankbait tied on and on the deck, but as far as my experiences it really isn’t time to throw migratory baits — even though fish are moving up and moving down all the time. They don’t all spawn at the same time.

It’s double-digit bass time, no doubt. There will be more double-digits caught with each wave that hits the beaches to spawn. We’ll see more trophy-sized bass. And it’s already been an amazing spring with 10-plus pounders. Just check out all of them in this issue.

Will Bill Cook’s new lake record, the 15.67-pounder he hooked and boated Feb. 11, hold up through late winter and spring? Who knows. A bigger one very well could hit the scale. Stay tuned. Enjoy the moment in the red-hot revival of Toledo Bend.

I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. April should offer a good chance to catch a bragging-size bass. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 99 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.