Positive turn for Toledo Bend

Lower water levels mean better fishing

That November days will be the time to catch Toledo Bend bass — in both quantity and quality — is a no-brainer.

And it can’t come soon enough.

One piece of the bass-catching puzzle fell into place after the natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey, which caused so much misery to residents of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana (my heart and prayers continue to go out to them.) That storm dumped 14 to 16 inches of rain in this region, a deluge in a short span that raised the lake level to 174 one day — full pool is 172. Lake officials started letting water out fast, and there has been talk it will be pulled down to 169, or, even perhaps 168.

This is something we’ve talked about that needed to happen — a lower water level in this great lake shared by Louisiana and Texas. And it’s already having a positive effect on the bass fishing success because it pulls fish tighter and concentrates them. I’ve always said the best bass bite is when it’s between 167 and 168.

As far as recent catches of bass, sizes and numbers have increased astronomically with each drop in the water level.

I know darned well October was a great month for bass fishing, and November will be even better. Bassin’ success already picked up the last 2 ½ weeks or so after an early cold front swept through and cooled the waters of Toledo Bend.

That’s the key — the second part of the puzzle that needs to fall into place. With the water level 3 feet under full pool, all we need now is cooler water temperatures. The latter part of October we’ll hopefully get significantly cooler temperatures and chillier November weather will get the water down to the 70s and 60s — we’ve been waiting a long time for this time of the year.

Of course, many, many outdoorsmen will be in deer stands and duck blinds. As a result, there will be less bass fishing pressure on the lake, so fewer boats will be the norm.

How much did the bass fishing improve in mid-September over the previous 3 ½ to 4 months? At the 4th annual Battle on the Border sponsored by Elliott Electric Supply out of Cypress Bend Resort, there was a 9-pounder and two 8-pound-plus bass caught Sept. 17.

With a three-fish limit, the winning weight was quite impressive. The Brian Electric team of Kevin Maxwell and Lee Brian’s three bass tipped the scale at 17.67 pounds for $1,200. The International Paper #2 team of Josh Winfree and R.D. Winfree were right behind them with 17.45 pounds worth $700.

Those guys caught some great bass — fish that really haven’t shown consistently over the summer.

I’ve been catching 3- and 4-pound bass regularly the past few weeks droppin’ the grass with soft plastics, and I realize the bite’s going to improve by leaps and bounds through November, at least. And it won’t be limited to dropping, punching, pitching, flipping — or whatever you want to call it.

It’s a time when soft plastics in june bug/red, red bug, plum/apple and plum put more fish in the boat than the popular watermelon/red and green pumpkin, which are more suitable for the springtime months.

Yes, soft plastics should come into play big time again, so break out the Flukes, Senkos, wacky worms, trick worms, soft plastic jerkbaits and plastic worms., and fish them in and around grass beds. There’ll be some fish as shallow as 2- or 3-feet this month.

November also is prime time for moving baits such as Chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps, crankbaits and jerkbaits. A ½- or ¾-ounce jig in black/blue or “peanut butter n jelly” will catch more and more bass as the water cools.

And, the topwater bite ought to provide plenty of action in November. Zara Spooks, Pop-Rs, plastic frogs, buzz baits — whatever your favorite is, throw that and you’ll get bit, even if you throw it all day long because it’s that time of year. These bass will be eating now, and the shad, which are plentiful, should be up in the vegetation.

With the baitfish there, bass are going to be chasing the further we get into fall and early winter.

Crappie fishing on the lake has been fair at best with some mighty slow days. Hopefully, as the water cools, the crappie fishing also will get hotter and hotter.

If you want to catch bass in November — when the fishing should be excellent — I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re always welcome in my boat. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

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About John Dean 75 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.

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