Betting on the come

The odds of a winning weight nearing the century mark are low but not impossible.

By Day 3 what we do know is a majority of the Toledo Bend bass population is post-spawn. Some spawning fish remain and the full moon is nearing. The lunar phase and steadily warming temperatures could trigger a final wave into spawning. Look for the weights to climb if that happens.

“The fish are in between the postspawn and summertime patterns,” said Matt Lee. “My hope with the full moon coming is that one more wave will come shallow.”

Lee wants that because he’s fishing for spawning bass. He’s betting on the come. What comes in will be quality in size. He considers it worth the gamble after making the Top 50 cut on Day 2.

“I’m catching a lot of spawners but there are guys around me catching postspawners, too,” he continued.

Keith Combs, who lives nearer Sam Rayburn but not far from Toledo Bend, agrees with Lee.

“The reason the weights are so low is that we are here during an in-between time,” he said. “Once they get out on the ledges, like they did last year, you will see those huge weights get caught.”

Combs believes the potential remains for catching a huge limit of postspawners remains.

“If someone can be in the right place at the right time then a huge wave of seven or eight pounders could come out,” he added. “It will be one of those deals where you can catch one on every cast.”

Combs, like everyone else fishing today, is all fishing the same way. Wide open.

“Today we are all swinging for the fences because none of us having anything to loose,” he added.

Indeed. At any time Toledo Bend could show it’s true potential. Being in the right place, at the right time, is what will win it all. 

Hartman: "I don't know what to do"

Jamie Hartman had caught a 4 pound bass off a bed, putting him in the lead, and he paused to think about his next move.

"Are you going to keep sight fishing?" he was asked. "I don't know," he said. "That one was kind of a game changer. I like doing this [sight fishing], but it drives me crazy. Takes too much patience."

At that point he found another bed and spent about 15 minutes there, catching one non-keeper. He then trolled out to a point and told us, "I'm torn now, I don't know what to do."

He had caught deeper post spawn bass, and he had caught spawning bass off beds. Hartman has nearly 17 pounds in the livewell, and he'll likely make the cut for Championship Sunday. Will he finish the day offshore or find more beds? Tune into the weigh-in at 3:15 today on to find out.

Jordon's bed fish trick

There are two things you can always count on from Kelly Jordon: 1) a string of astonishing fishing and hunting tales; and 2) big bass catches with, of course, a story to go with them.

Jordon's latest tale has a bedding bass tip that might be as helpful for you as it was for him yesterday, when Jordon caught the big bass of the day - a 7-pound, 13-ounce female largemouth.

"I fished this bass for an hour (Thursday) and it was frustrating as heck," Jordon said yesterday. "I went back about 11:30 today. It was sitting down pretty good, and I said, 'Man, there's a chance. It looks like this fish is going to be catchable.' I caught it in 30 minutes. But it was still really hard to catch."

Jordon employed a trick he learned from Brett Hite 10 years ago when they were "fun fishing" on Lake Fork – the 316 Mission Fish.

"I pulled the Mission Fish out," Jordon said. "It looks like a big ol' bream. That fish just lit up when I threw it in there. I've used it a lot since Brett showed me the trick many moons ago, to get a big fish to react when I couldn't get it to react with anything else. It's a big ol' swimbait, seven or eight inches long. You throw it in there and they get mad as heck.

"I got it fired up with that. It would chase it off the bed and kind of hit at it. Then I put on another bream bait, a little (Big Bite Baits Dean Rojas) Warmouth. On my first pitch with it, I let it sit on the bottom. I saw her swim across the bed and leave, and my line was leaving with her."

Jordon remains puzzled about where all the spawning bass went that he'd located in practice.

"I had millions of bed fish found on Tuesday," he said. "They were paired everywhere, and they were rolling. I thought, 'Man, they're coming with that full moon that's coming Tuesday.' I couldn't really check on them Wednesday because of the wind.

"It's really frustrating. I had pockets that were just loaded up - beds every 10 feet - and they're just gone. They did not all get caught. It's just weird."

Ashley limits

On Casey Ashley's third move on the main lake, he struck quick gold.

Less than 5 minutes after putting his trolling motor down, Ashley landed his fifth keeper of the day. He followed up with another fish that didn't make the team.

That keeper, however, has him just inside the Top 12.

Jump of the tournament?

John Murray may have made the jump of the tournament if his weights are true. Starting the day in 34th, Murray now unofficially sits in second place with 22-12.

The weights entered for Murray's livewell are 7-8,  7-0,  3-8,  3-0, and 1-8. From the looks of BASSTrakk, Murray may have just reached a signal point for his Marshal to send in log information. He has the majority of the day left with a pair of giants that could throw his name in the ring.

Upgrade for Hartman

Jamie Hartman just added a pound-and-a-half to his limit. He caught the second bass off this bed. This one was 3 and 3/4 to 4 pounds. And he culled a 2 and a half pounder.

That gets him darn close to 17 pounds and a solid lead for the moment.

"It wasn't as big as I thought, but that gets me to tomorrow," Hartman said. He showed some emotion for the first time today, pumping his fist in the air when he held up the fish.

Hartman adding to lead

Jamie Hartman just reached his limit. His 5th keeper was about 2 and a half pounds. That would get him to 15 and a half or 16 pounds for the day. We believe it was the male on the bed and the big female is still there. That's the fish Hartman really wants.

Hartman eyeing a big fish

Jamie Hartman took about 8 minutes retying and setting up another rod or two with his chosen lures. He's bed fishing and has his eyes on a big fish. We asked him how big it is, and he didn't want to speak for fear of spooking the bass. But he gave us hand signals that communicated "GIANT."  Every movement in his boat right now is soft
and gentle. He's sneaking around like he doesn't want to wake up a baby.

Hartman moves back into lead

Jamie Hartman moved back into the lead with a four pound largemouth.
This was his fourth keeper.  That's our estimate on the size from 40
yards away. His patience on these bedding fish paid off.

He's fishing the spawn now. Earlier in the day he was fishing deeper,
catching post spawn bass.

Hartman has committed to the Elite Series like few others. He sold his
house in Newport, New York, put his possessions in storage, and broke
up with his girlfriend. Without those commitments, Hartman has had
time to pre-fish events like Toledo Bend.

Ashley makes a big move

Casey Ashley just abandoned his initial location, running across the lake and north to a main-lake area. But his tactic of carefully dissecting the area has remained unchanged. He's switched baits a couple of times, but so far hasn't set the hook.