Falcon Lake was amazing in 2008. Over four days in March, 109 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers caught big bass at a rate that was almost unfathomable. The average angler brought 4.95 bass to the scales each day (out of a possible 5) and the average fish weighed almost 5 pounds.
Of the dozen anglers who qualified to fish on the final day, all 12 surpassed 100 pounds, a feat that had never been attained before and may never be reached again. But that's not what was amazing ... at least not to me.
What was amazing is that if the full field of 109 anglers had been allowed to fish all four days, half of them were on a pace to crack the century mark.
But as amazing as Falcon was in 2008, it was also pretty much off the mainstream bass fishing radar. Tucked away in south Texas, on the sketchy Mexican border, most people think of drug cartels when considering this area long before they think about lunker largemouths.
Since 2008, however, Falcon has been more in the spotlight than ever before, received more fishing pressure than ever before and suffered bigger expectations than ever before. Stories abound about anglers who go out, catch a limit, come back to the ramp to put their catch on ice then go out fishing again ... and again and again. Add dramatic water level fluctuations that have hampered the fishing and it's no wonder things are different, worse.
Still, it's a very good lake.
Let's compare Day 1 of this year's Elite event with what we saw in 2008.
The bassing average at Falcon in 2008 was 4.95. On Day 1 this year it was 4.45; that's down by half a bass per angler day — a big drop.
The average bass at Falcon in 2008 was 4.91 pounds (almost 4-15). On Day 1 this year it was 4.04 pounds; that's down 18 percent. It's still a big number, though. In fact, if it holds up it'll rank fourth in Elite history behind Falcon 2008, Clear Lake (2007) and Lake Guntersville (2009).
Aaron Martens took the first round lead at Falcon five years ago with 42-0. This year the early lead belongs to Keith Combs with 34-13. That's a drop of 17 percent.
Big bass at Falcon in 2008 was 13-2 (caught by former Elite pro Scott Campbell on the first day of that tournament). The smallest daily big fish in that event weighed 10-5. Big bass on Day 1 this year was a much less gaudy 9-11 by Rick Morris.
So, to no one's surprise, production on Falcon is down. Still, it's a stellar fishery and almost certainly the best fishing the Elites are going to see this year.