Odds are in your favor at Toledo Bend

TJ Roussel with a 9.14-pound Toledo Bend bass caught this spring.

There are multiple ways to pick off bass in the grass this month

As June arrives with so much promise for successful bassin’ on Toledo Bend, it’s a good time to remember what goes around comes around.

Or, as past Bassmaster Classic winner and Bassmaster broadcaster Davy Hite so aptly puts it, cycles. Considering Toledo Bend’s frustratingly low pool level the past few years, and the disappearance of grass for so long, we’re in a prime cycle going into the summer. This great lake shared by Louisiana and Texas has plenty of water, almost too much, and plenty of hydrilla and other vegetation as of May 1.

There are also other factors in favor of good bass fishin’ coming up, such as the June 21 full moon, which kick starts the seasonal night bass fishing. Plus warming water temps conducive to increased growth of the green stuff. The setup reminds me of the old days, 30-35 years ago, but more about that later.

Toledo Bend’s pool stage on May 1 was at 172.48 and rising after the latest round of severe weather accompanied by heavy rains hit the Ark-La-Tex region again with more rain forecast in the region the first week of May. The many months when the lake level was stuck in the 167s are in the rearview mirror.

Two ways to tackle the grass

With the addition of more and more grass on the Texas side, as well as upstream in the Tenaha Creek and Circle Drive areas, bass anglers have two choices when they fish Toledo Bend. They can go up in the stuff, in and around the grass that’s growing to 13-feet deep now, or they can go scopin’ with forward facing sonar around structure in 20- to 25-foot depths, as they almost had to do once the lake heated up sans vegetation the past few years.

I’m banking that more bass will stay in the grass with the shad and bream this summer than leave for offshore waters, simply because of the cooler water temps inside. We’ll see how it all plays out this summer.

I know what I’ll be doing. I’ll head to the acres of grass, then start punchin’ a soft plastic or rippin’ a heavy spinnerbait through it. Rippin’ blades? Oh, yeah. I enjoyed some of my best bassin’ days three or so decades ago doing just that in the grass, while many of the pros I hung around with stayed offshore and fished deep structure “blind,” you might say. The bigger fish, average 2 to 4 pounds, were in the grass.

Bait options

My spinnerbait of choice has been long off the market, but it basically was a ¾-ounce model with a 4 ½ gold willowleaf blade and a 3 ½ nickel willowleaf blade. The hotter the weather the better.

I spent a good part of yesterday building some spinnerbaits like that with a golden bream skirt, for starters. I’m confident the spinnerbait will produce. I can’t wait to start grinding that blade when I’m not punchin’.

I’ll position the boat in drains close to the breakline of grass beds (not on top of the grass) and cast perhaps 6- to 7-feet into the mat depending on how many holes there are. Bass cooling their heels, er, fins, should be just inside the breakline.

There are other ways to pick off the heavy bass in the grass. I like to drop (now it’s called “punchin’ ”) a June bug/red, fire-and-ice, red bug or plum apple Zoom Old Monster Worm or tequila green Gambler plastic worm and similarly colored soft plastic creature baits — all under a pegged ½-ounce worm weight. That Old Monster, by the way, is a great punching bait.

And I’ll keep ‘em honest with a plastic frog. Yes, even in the middle of a hot as heck day. I’ll also offer buzz baits and swim jigs, other favorites of bass in the grass.

Fishing at night

As for bass fishing at night, target the growing number of docks and other wooden structures around the lake, especially in Lanan and San Miguel Creek, or head to the grass where you can fish even shallower than during the day in places like Six Mile, Housen and Blue Lake. Around manmade structures, which often are enhanced with brushpiles for crappie, try flippin’ soft plastics and throwing buzz baits and small crankbaits. On the grass beds, try plastic frogs, other topwaters and spinnerbaits.

I’ll fish my strengths and enjoy this fresh cycle.

I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life. June should be a prime time to catch bass in and around the grass. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 98 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.