2014 Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend
Toledo Bend Reservoir - Many, LA, May 1 - 4, 2014

Toledo Bend’s going to be a fun event

This is going to be a fun week. The water’s up, it’s warm, the lake is full of grass and the bass are biting everywhere.

Most of the anglers have been catching a few near the bank. That’s pretty typical for this time of the year. The problem is that the water temperature is 70 degrees or better. That means most of the bass have finished their spawn. So, the ones that are still on the bank are moving away from it fairly fast. I’d say they’ll be gone before the tournament is over.

The temptation is to fish the bank and hope for a couple of bigger fish to keep you in contention. That might work but it’s more likely that you’ll end up with five average size keepers at the end of the day. That’s not the way you win.

The better strategy most likely will be to move away from the shore — we all talk about turning our backs to the dirt — and look for five bigger fish. The trick will be to find them and develop a consistent bite.

The bigger fish are around. We’ve seen some big ones caught during practice, and if the stories we’re hearing are even half true, the lake is better than it’s ever been, and it’s been pretty darn good for a lot of years.

There’s nothing new with any of this. We see it all the time, usually here but always somewhere. We arrive just in time to see the postspawn movement from shallow water to deeper water. It’s a fun time to fish but it’s also a time that requires skill and persistence. What you see and do today has very little to do with what you’ll see and do tomorrow. If you expect to survive, you’d better adapt.

It seems like we’re seeing bad weather around this time every year, too. I feel so bad for all the people who’ve been hit by tornadoes and severe storms. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. If you’re in the path of one of those things, it’s all over. This stuff shows you that anyone who thinks they are in charge is sadly mistaken.

Before I go, I want to leave you with one final thought about Toledo Bend. Between where I’m staying and the ramp at Six Mile Creek, there’s a town called Hemphill. Hemphill isn’t very big but back in the day it was home to some of the legendary bass anglers who built the foundations of our sport. They were known as the Hemphill Gang.

It’s almost freaky to drive through the area. It’s like you can feel the vibes from the early days of the sport, days when only Ray Scott and a handful of anglers ever thought this business of professional bass fishing would amount to anything.

I’m not going to name any of those early guys because I’m sure that I’d leave somebody out. I do want to acknowledge them, however, and throw a word of thanks their way. They made my career possible.

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