Toledo Bend’s largemouth bass run should continue in June

Phil Click of Natchitoches showcased his fly fishing skills at Toledo Bend on May 4 and triggered several bass bites on a tough day with a Deer Hair Popper he deftly placed in holes in the grass.

We really, really have missed a bona fide punchin’, pitchin’, flippin’ grass bite since the mid-2010s at Toledo Bend.

I’m happy to say it looks like we’ll be making up for lost time in June. It’s time to break out the punchin’ sticks. Who knows if it’ll be like old times when we cranked big’uns from the grass, but it’s sure going to be fun trying. After all, after half-a-dozen years or so with virtually no grass on this great border lake, the grassy comeback is evident in so many places, especially on the Texas side.

And other conditions are setting up right for it to happen. Average water temp was in the 70’s in mid May and that should rise this week and weeks ahead with air temps in the middle to upper 80s.

Things look good

The pool level has been above 171 and we’ve had some unseasonably late cold fronts and extra rain. It’s been something else.

So the lake elevation is great. Grass is there. The bait — shad and bream — is there. I’m really optimistic. June bass fishing success looks really good. It really does. We just need some heat and we’re going to get that. June time is summer time, the right conditions for air, water temps.

I’m sure there were some more double digits that hit the scales after a banner year that ended with the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash on May 20. Fifty-six double-digit bass (nine between 11 and 14 pounds) have been weighed in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program at this writing compared to 34 in 2021-22.

With the grass, it’s time to shine. There’s no question the lake is back based on the increased number of 10-pound-plus bass and overall improvement in bass catches. Can it be attributed to the re-emergence of hydrilla? There’s got to be a correlation there in my opinion.

I’ll definitely be targeting the grass like so many of us did from the 1980s to mid-2010s. I’m looking forward to it.

My choice

Right now much of the grass can be seen in 8- to 9-foot depths. My first choice in and around the grass before sticking a punchin’ rod in my hand will be a plastic frog, my favorite Stanley Top Toad. The top colors are watermelon/red/pearl belly (No. 204), black, white and “Parrot.”

That’s my confidence bait, a hollow body floater. You move it, they kill it. The slower the better. A buzz bait works, too, in and around hydrilla.

Can’t wait to go to work with a punchin’ stick with a soft plastic on the business end of 40-pound test braided line tied to a Gamakatzu EWG 3/0 hook (depending on the size of the soft plastic). I’ll use a ½- or ¾-ounce pegged weight, but will go lighter if the bass are suspended.

The fish will tell you what they want. I like chunky, bulky soft plastics but sometimes it’s hard to beat a Senko or, like Gerald Swindle, a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm. The best summertime colors from my experience are June Bug Red first and foremost but Red Bug can be hard to beat, as can Plum Apple and watermelon/candy/red combinations.

Punchin’ soft plastics

I remember the first punchin’ soft plastics we dunked here in the early ’80s. I was fishing B.A.S.S. tournaments in Florida when Bobby Ditto of Ditto Manufacturing gave me Gator Tails at St. Johns River and the late Russ Bringger gave me Gamblers at Lake Okeechobee, where he won several major bass tournaments. Those two soft plastics were the first punchin’, flippin’, pitchin’, dunkin’ — whatever you want to call it — baits we dropped in the grass on Toledo Bend. They were our new bullets. I still have a bunch I stockpiled over the years.

I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life. June should also be a prime time to catch bass on topwaters. 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.