When is the best time to catch a Toledo Bend lunker?

Be on the lake in February and March for best chances

It’s the $1 million question: When should you make the haul to Toledo Bend for the greatest chance to catch one of the double-digit bass that teem in the huge reservoir?

Well, while monster bass are caught at the nations’ No. 1 bass fishery throughout the year, the best opportunity to get in on the big-fish action begins this month.

But odds tip farthest in your favor in March.

“February and March is when the prespawn and the first wave of spawners collide,” proven lunker-catcher Darold Gleason said. “It’s when the fish are most vulnerable.”

Gleason, who runs South Toledo Bend Guide Service, knows what he’s talking about: He’s logged seven bass topping the 10-pound mark into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.

But if you still aren’t certain, all you have to do is check out the records of the Toledo Bend Lake Association, which runs the program.

Their records show that, over the past four years, far more trophy fish were caught during  February and March — with the high point coming in March 2016, when almost 50 beastly bass were stuck.

Gleason said one key to the large numbers of 10-plus-pound bass being caught during that 60-day period is that fish are at their heaviest in the late winter and early spring.

“The females are full of eggs, and they’ve got the weight they’ve put on during the winter,” he said. “Those fish that we catch that are 8, 9, 9 1/2 pounds in April and May —they’re 10 pounds in March.”

So you know the best two months, but when is the absolute best week to be there?

That’s a little harder to nail down, Gleason said.

“Typically, it’s going to peak around the full moon of February or the full moon of March,” Gleason said.

But there’s a huge Louisiana caveat — the ever-changing weather.

“I think the weather affects (the spawn) more than the moon phase,” Gleason said. “If you come to Toledo Bend and it’s the perfect moon phase and all is right in the world, and you have a hard cold front blow through, it’s not going to happen.”

So if you see a little warm-up coming, hitch up the boat and head to the massive reservoir.

You just might catch the bass of a lifetime. ■

About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.