2017 Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend presented by Econo Lodge
After the Classic, the Bassmaste Elite Sereis kicks back into gear.
KVD - day 2 Toledo Bend 2017
Lovin' East Texas!
Every time I come to East Texas, it brings back pleasant memories.
The Bassmaster Elites are at Toledo Bend this weekend and we're at nearby Sam Rayburn in May. I've been fortunate to win Bassmaster events on both lakes.
My first time on Toledo was very memorable. It was 1992 and I was practicing at Sam Rayburn for an upcoming tournament. I had a phenomenal day catching more than 100 bass on spinnerbaits that I worked through flooded bushes.
When Rayburn went off limits, I left there and drove to Toledo to fish with former Bassmaster Classic winner Tommy Martin and stay at his house. It was the beginning of a long, endearing friendship.
Just as it is now, Toledo Bend was a fabled lake back then. It created a lot of great pro anglers, such as Tommy, Larry Nixon, Lonnie Stanley, Bo Dowden and Harold Allen to name a few.
Bassmaster voted Toledo Bend the No. 1 bass lake, and for good reason. It churns out a lot of big fish and manages to maintain itself despite the tremendous amount of pressure it gets.
There are several reasons Toledo Bend is so good, but its mammoth size has a lot to do with it. When you have a lake that big with great habitat, you can sustain a good fishery. Another factor is the number of boat docks that have popped up on the lake, offering more good bass habitat along the shore.
Toledo Bend isn't just noted for its bass. It is an equally good crappie and catfish lake. The entire fishery draws thousands of anglers every year.
I was fortunate to win at Toledo last year when we fished here a month and half later in the season. That was a time when the lake was higher and the fish were pretty much done spawning and moving out to offshore structure, where I found a strong bite on the Strike King 10XD crankbait.
This year is a different story. The lake is low; there isn't much bank grass or cover on the flats. Most of the fish are still in the post-spawn cycle, lounging around the shallow areas.
At the time of this writing, I expect the strongest fishing will be shallow and not on offshore. But you never know what you might encounter on this lake. It's loaded with quality bass.
This region isn't known solely for its fishing; I really enjoy coming here because the area is rich in bass fishing history AND the people are so nice.
It's also a great place to come for a crawfish feast, which is one of my favorite foods in the entire world.
If you've never been fishing in East Texas, you're really depriving yourself of one of America's great bass fishing locations and a place where everyone feels welcome!
Remember, it's all about the attitude!
KVD - day 1 from the Toledo Bend!
'Wind is not your friend on Toledo Bend'
Wednesday morning had a weird vibe at Cypress Bend Park’s well-known boat ramp on Toledo Bend.
It was as though all the stars slept in on the final day of practice for the Bassmaster Elite Series presented by EconoLodge. The top-notch boat ramp that normally has 50 to 70 pros launching from it, only had eight at sunrise.
Gerald Swindle who is staying nearby, could be seen driving over the hill toward a far more distant ramp.
Finally, Skeet Reese showed up at Cypress Bend. Then came Aaron Martens and Kevin VanDam.
VanDam had barely put his Tundra in park when he warned, “Wind is not your friend on Toledo Bend.”
Keep in mind, VanDam likes this place. It’s only been 11 months since he deep-cranked 96-pounds of bass from its famed waters to take home the 21st victory of his unparalleled career, and yet another check for $100,000.
On Wednesday, his feelings weren’t quite as warm as winds stiffened the iconic flags that proudly decorate Cypress Bend Park.
“When I got out of bed and it was already blowing 25, I knew a lot of the shallow spots I’d want to check had already been muddied up,” says VanDam. “When the wind gusts over 30 mph here – it’s just no fun – it’s dangerous actually.”
VanDam is right – in fact, a Lake Wind Advisory has been issued for Wednesday, warning pros and all boaters that not only had their favorite fishing holes been muddied, but also that being on the water might not be the brightest idea.
However, when you make your living by finding and catching bass, you seldom get the day off, and VanDam needs this day to learn more than what he gathered Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re here six weeks earlier than when I won last year. Those were all post-spawn fish that were grouped up in 25-feet of water last May. Right now, most fish are in the tail-end of the spawn and they haven’t all moved out deep to group up real good – so I’m still looking – and letting conditions dictate what I do,” explains VanDam.
The chance of Kevin VanDam winning on a deep school again are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean he can’t seize victory with a mixed-bag of spawners and post-spawners. The good news is winds are forecasted to calm for Thursday’s first day of competition and that will allow for better sight fishing.
So while the winds may be blowing and he may have taken his time getting to the ramp this morning, the most dominant angler of the past 30 years is looking with rifle focus to calmer competition days and a shot to win once more.
John Murray - 77-10
1. 17-13, 2. 11-7, 3. 23-7, 4. 24-15
Jason Christie - 72-11
1. 21-5, 2. 15-3, 3. 16-2, 4. 20-1
Jamie Hartman - 72-7
1. 23-5, 2. 15-12, 3. 17-14, 4. 15-8
Casey Ashley - 70-6
1. 13-3, 2. 23-9, 3. 16-7, 4. 17-3
Brandon Palaniuk - 67-5
1. 19-13, 2. 13-11, 3. 17-1, 4. 16-12
Andy Montgomery - 65-9
1. 18-3, 2. 12-0, 3. 16-11, 4. 18-11
Alton Jones - 65-3
1. 18-5, 2. 13-6, 3. 18-3, 4. 15-5
Todd Faircloth - 61-9
1. 20-2, 2. 17-12, 3. 9-11, 4. 14-0
Brett Hite - 59-14
1. 24-11, 2. 13-2, 3. 9-4, 4. 12-13
Jacob Wheeler - 57-2
1. 25-1, 2. 11-1, 3. 11-9, 4. 9-7
Randy Howell - 56-14
1. 15-12, 2. 17-5, 3. 13-15, 4. 9-14
Matt Lee - 53-4
1. 20-0, 2. 13-5, 3. 15-5, 4. 4-10
Kevin VanDam - 42-11
1. 14-14, 2. 16-1, 3. 11-12
History & Notes;
Day 2: Kelly Jordon - 7-13
Day 4: John Murray - 7-9