Zack Gagnard has had more success fishing bass tournaments than many men triple his age.
There has been quite a buzz about how good bass anglers are expecting the fishing to be at Toledo Bend this spring. After several years of extremely low conditions, the water is flirting with the bushes, and bass are waiting to move onto the beds any day now.
Long-time Toledo Bend veteran and tournament angler Jeff Tall has been on the lake the past few days, and has found the best patterns to be as varied as the weather.
In preparation for the Louisiana Oilman’s Tournament, he and his partner were stroking the fish until the little front blew threw late in the week. They still managed 17.84 and 17.80 to finish eighth, and Tall said the fishing could bust wide open just any day.
“The lake was about 169.8 during the tournament,” Tall said. “There isn’t but about 6 to 10 inches of water in the bushes – not the 1 1/2 feet that you need for the fish to really get in them. We started shallow in 2 to 4 feet of water using 3/8-ounce double willow spinnerbaits in front of the bushes, but we had to back out in front of the hay grass and cockaburs and fish Senkos and trick worms to catch our fish.”
Tall has been fishing the mid-lake area from San Patricio to Negreet, and he said the key to staying on the bite in that area is to move up if the water rises and to back off on a fall. The fish are just waiting to move up shallow to spawn, but any little cold front will push them back to 6 or 7 feet of water in front of the hay grass.
“We saw several males up trying to make beds on Thursday,” Tall said, “but they were all gone by Saturday. Last weekend, we caught a lot of males up shallow with some few females mixed in. It looked like there was an entire wave of fish just waiting on the full moon so they could spawn, but this front stalled them. On Friday and Saturday, we were starting the day with 53-degree water, and it only jumped to 57 or 58 by the end of the day. We had 59- to 61-degree water the week prior.”
Tall also said most of the places he has been fishing – San Patricio, San Miguel, and the back of Negreet – have had a little stain in the water. The water gets a little better the farther south you go, but it still stains up in the backs of the creeks.
“You might want to try bigger 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits in that kind of water to get that thump,” Tall suggested. “And slow down a little. The water is even stained around the hay where you would normally expect it to be clear.”
Anglers hitting Toledo Bend this week should make sure to have a good supply of Senkos, Flukes and trick worms. Tall said he expects these baits to jump to the forefront as the bass move on the beds. He also recommended trying Rattlin’ Rogues and Texas-rigged lizards and Brush Hogs.
“They ought to be coming on strong and bed by the end of the week,” Tall concluded. “That is if they don’t start by Wednesday or Thursday. All it’s going to take is a little jump in the water temperature, and I see a lot of 70s in the long-range forecast.”
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