How I'll fish Sam Rayburn

This week we are on Sam Rayburn for the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This tournament counts toward AOY so in that regard it's the same as a regular Elite event, but there are a lot of differences in the format of this one. First of all the winner of this derby wins $100,000 just like always, but he will also win a guaranteed spot into the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. That may not sound like much, but to us, trust me, it means everything. Also the big fish winner in this tournament wins a brand new Toyota Tundra. My Tundra is going on three years old and ticking on a little more than 100,000 miles so I'd be glad to trade her in for a new one here this week.

Another difference in the format of this tournament is that we are actually doing a catch, weigh, release type thing where we only actually keep one bass per day to bring back to the weigh in. That one fish must be at least 21 inches in length as well. We each will have judges in our boat who will weigh our fish for us then they will be immediately released. I'm really excited about this format and would love to see more of it in the future simply because it's much less stressful on the fish and us as anglers as well not having to worry with keeping our catch alive all day. OK, enough about the tournament let's talk fishing.

It seems like almost every place we've been this year you've heard me say that the fish are scattered and a guy can catch them a lot of different ways. Well I'm gonna say it again because it's very true here this week. I guarantee there will be guys in the Top 12 fishing shallow in 5 feet or less, and I'd also bet there will be guys in the Top 12 fishing offshore 15-25 feet deep.

There are plenty of options on this lake right now and it seem as though getting a bite is not a huge issue, but getting a quality bite or two is what's going to separate you from the pack. Having never been to Rayburn before my plan coming in was to live or die offshore. I've worked on my "ledge fishing" game a lot the past couple years and I feel I'm starting to understand it more and more, but I've just not been able to get the deep bite going here in practice. I did find a couple places that I will hit throughout the tournament just to keep them honest, but when it comes right down to it I feel comfortable up shallow so that's where I'll spend the majority of my time.

I'll have 10 or so MHX rods rigged and ready for several different scenarios on game day and I don't want to give away all my cards at this point, but I don't think it's any secret that a soft plastic stickbait will be one I'll rely on. Any time you’re around grass, particularly hydrilla, a soft plastic stickbait is hard to beat. I'll throw it on an MHX-MB-844 that is 7-foot heavy power.  I've got it rigged with a 3/16 ounce weight and a 3/0 Mustad Big Bite Grip Pin hook.

By the way, if you haven't tried that hook yet you need to because it's the best soft plastics hook ever made – period.  All that is tied up with 17-pound Vicious Pro-Elite fluorocarbon and I'm ready for battle. Hopefully Sam Rayburn will be good to me this week and maybe like the last Elite I will bring in the Phoenix Boat Big Bass – and a new Tundra!

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