Record flooding can’t stop the Bend

Bass don’t mind record water levels

“Don’t be afraid to come fish Toledo Bend because it rained.”

That’s what Living the Dream Guide Service’s Jerry Thompson said when I called the day the massive reservoir hit record water levels after massive amounts of rainfall swamped the entire northern part of the state.

When he uttered those words, more water was belching out the Toledo Bend dam than flows over Niagara Falls. A lot more water. And Thompson had posted on Facebook photos of his dock that had water above the deck, from which I once stepped down into his boat.

I was confused, since such flooding would make catching a bass in South Louisiana about as likely as dealing with snowfall — it could happen, but it wasn’t very likely.

I made the call while considering how to deal with the John Dean’s April Toledo Bend column. Honestly, I was considering pulling it for the month, figuring it would take some weeks for there to be any real shot at our readers being able to get on the water. And I certainly figured all of the information Dean gave was worthless.

But when Thompson picked up the phone, I could tell he was outside. In fact, he was on the water, and he’d been pitching at bass all day.

That was hard to believe for a lifelong South Louisiana boy like me. But Thompson promised me the only impact to the fishery would be that bass would 1) “run to the banks” and 2) congregate in clear-water pockets.

And guess what? Thompson wasn’t the only big-bass hunter who knew the skyrocketing water wouldn’t slow things down. Texas angler Austin Hebert stuck the hook in a 12-pounder the same day I considered canceling the Dean’s column.

So what does this teach us? Well, first, there’s more to bass fishing than just my South Louisiana world. Secondly, that bass are used to water (yeah, that should be obvious), and changes don’t affect them as much as they do us anglers.

And, thirdly, it just reinforces the fact that Toledo Bend is an amazing fishery that should be on every angler’s annual bucket list.

No, I’ve never caught a Toledo Bend bass that surpassed the 5-pound mark. Yes, most of my trips are busts. But the potential is alway there to hit things just right and created a memory to last a lifetime.

It’s why I picked up the cell before making a final decision. The one thing I’ve learned in more than 20 years in this industry is that I don’t know it all.

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.