COUNTY ANGLERS OFF TO STRONG START
Last updated 1/28/2020 at Noon
Orange County tournament fishermen have enjoyed an incredible start to 2020 thus far.Last week veteran FLW pro, Tommy Dickerson finished second on Rayburn and added another $30,000 to the $300,000 career earnings he has amassed on the FLW circuit.
More important than the big pay day, Dickerson’s second place finish earned him an early qualification for the year-end championship event.Rayburn has been slow to give up the usual numbers of heavy weight pre-spawn bass that are game changers thus far, but the Orange pro put together a consistent pattern early on and very nearly pulled off his fourth win the final day.
His 18-0-pound bag topped the second best catch posted by the rest of the field on the final day by five pounds.I was also a little surprised that he was the only Texas pro to finish in the top ten.
For Lamar State College Orange bass fishermen, Bret Fregia and Jack Tindell, waiting out the final results proved more stressful than putting together a quality five fish stringer of bass.They weighed in a solid team stringer weighing 13 pounds 10-ounces vaulting them all the way up to fourth place early on and were then forced to sweat out every catch over the next two hours.
When all was said and done, the pair had slipped into the tenth spot, but it was still worthy of celebratory high fives as 12 of the 250 teams qualified for the Bassmaster College Championship.Tindell and Fregia posted double digit catches both days to finish with 30-pounds 8 ounces.
On the high school level, a pair of LCM anglers made their mark as well by finishing sixth out of 200 teams competing on Toledo Bend.Brendon Brones and Dakota Posey weighed in a 14-pound 6 ounce catch only four pounds off the winning mark.
And, while Orange County anglers are off to an incredible start in 2020, no team in Texas is hotter than Atascocita High School anglers, Maverick Winford and Ian Ratliff.The duo won the BASS sanctioned team event last week on Rayburn only to post an 18-pound 4-ounce catch on Toledo Bend and capture their second title in a row!
“We have a small pretty tight-mouth group of fishermen up here and we share very little information as to what we are catching, but our big bass bite has been a little slower so far”, said Jason Teal. Teal lives on the north end of Toledo Bend and to my knowledge has never fished south of Pendleton Bridge.
“Our big fish bite starts earlier than it does below the bridge,” said Teal, “and the biggest reason is shallower water that warms much faster.”Because he seldom fishes water over seven feet deep, his two favorite lures are a spinnerbait and a spinnerbait!
The group’s biggest fear is that their coveted portion of the massive impoundment will get over-pressured if folks ever find out how many double-digit bass they catch, but from past experience, I can’t see that ever happening.
Jason showed me around that portion of the lake when I first started guiding in the early 70’s and I still went through at least two lower units a year.The timber has been reduced to flooded stumps, but they are no less close together and equally unforgiving.Coupled with the fact that crudely cut trails usually led you on top of an unexpected ridge, even short boat rides were perilous at best!
I mention talking with Teal only because he offered a valid opinion as to why they haven’t caught more big bass thus far.He thinks the bite has just been slowed down temporarily due to lots of cold rain water.“Three weeks ago we were fishing some 59 degree water, but the same spots last Friday were 53 degrees and the water was much dirtier. If weather conditions change drastically in the middle of the spawn, a lot of those big females will simply abort the spawn and seek out more comfortable water.
That is not a problem common to the south end of the lake, simply because the coveted females can spawn so close to much deeper water and a short temporary move solves the problem.Eddie Hudson said he caught some solid bass drop shotting under a huge ball of shad on the south end last weekend.
The surface temperature had taken a hit and both the bait and the fish were holding deeper than expected. A few days of warmer weather will change all of that!