Toledo Bend is back in the grass. And that means it’s back in the bass — and it’s good enough to move the big Louisiana-Texas border lake to the No. 6 spot overall in the coveted Bassmaster Magazine “Top 100” Lakes for 2023.
The lake also is listed as No. 2 in the list of Top 25 lakes in the Central Division of the country. Many veteran anglers and marina operators credit the return of larger numbers of bass and larger bass to the increase of aquatic vegetation growth and it’s role in fish populations. Toledo Bend was the only state lake in the Bassmaster Top 100.
Texas’ O.H. Ivie Reservoir was named the No. 1 bass lake in the country followed by the St. Lawrence River in New York, Clear Lake in California, Lake Murray in South Carolina and the Fellsmere Reservoir complex in Florida.
The increase in numbers of lunker bass on Toledo is well documented, boosted by a fantastic 2023 spring. In the 2021 cycle of the Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Lunker Bass program, 32 anglers weighed in bass over 10 pounds and were presented replicas by the TBLA. In the 2022-23 cycle, which ended at the end of May, that number had jumped to 57 bass weighing more than 10 pounds.
That also included a 15.67 pound largemouth caught on Feb. 11 by Bill Cook of Houston that set a new lake record. Four additional 10-pound-plus largemouths have also been caught on Toledo Bend this June. Toledo is a 185,000 acre reservoir than spans 70 miles in length.
Several other Louisiana lakes were on the prestigious list. In the Central Division rankings, Caney Lake near Chatham was No. 5, Bussey Brake near Bastrop was No. 6, Caddo Lake in Shreveport was No. 11 and Lake Bistineau near Minden was No. 23.
Anglers have reported that the number of giant bass caught this past year on Caney was down some, but the lake is still full of lunkers. And the number of 6-10 pound bass seems to as good as it was when the lake was first opened. The 5,000 acre Caney Lake is home to six of the 10 heaviest largemouth catches in the Bayou State.
Bussey on fire
Bussey, on the other hand, recently produced a growing number of huge bass. That includes a 15.36 pound lake record caught on February 26 by Robert Rush of Crossett, Arkansas.
That huge bass beat out a 13.58 lake record caught just two weeks before by Todd Herrington of Bastrop. Bussey is a 2,200 acre lake donated to the state by International Paper after it’s operations ceased there. There are strict limits on the lake as populations build back up following a closure and renovations at the lake.
In it’s description of why Toledo Bend was the top ranked lake in the state, Bassmaster said, “The Bend is back! Not that it ever left, really, but boy, did it sure feel like a revival when Ben Milliken caught 77-14 over the course of three days to win the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Toledo Bend in mid-April. It was the third-heaviest total in a three-day Open tournament in B.A.S.S. history and as impressive a victory as witnessed in recent years. Milliken’s average weight, just shy of 26 pounds a day, was a hammering reminder that not only is Toledo Bend one of the biggest bass lakes in the country, but also one of its most productive.”