Fantasy Fishing: Everything is bigger at Toledo Bend

The 2024 Bassmasters Elites Series brings a fresh start in Louisiana, and several new faces that will be tested at the Elite level for the first time. This year is the first time since 2018 the Elite Series is kicking off someplace other than the Sunshine State.  

Toledo Bend is slowly coming out of a cold spell with steadily warming weather. The last major event this spring felt like a winter tournament. It will be interesting to see how far the bass progress into pre-spawn by the time the Bassmaster Elite series kicks off at the end of February.

There is some grass in Toledo Bend but not nearly as much in years past, but the good news is the bass population and average size is trending in the right direction. I would suspect it is very likely we will see some 30-pound bags and potentially a double digit big bass of the event.

My suggestion is to balance your roster but do not weigh too heavily on tournament history. Have some anglers that are adept at intercepting mid-range to shallow bass pushing to their spawning destinations but understand that forward-facing sonar will leave its imprint on this event as well. If the water keeps warming steadily, it could create a wide open event for many techniques in this bring in your best five bass every day style event. If water remains cool, watch for offshore electronics to dominate the Top 10 on Championship Sunday.


If it was not for a disastrous finish on his home lake, Patrick Walters was right there at the end with Kyle Welcher for Angler of the Year in 2023. In my mind, it is only a matter of time before Walters claims his first AOY, and he is my pre-season AOY pick. Close your eyes and join me in my vision of Walters smashing giant bass on jerkbaits on Championship Sunday on Bass Live!

Something to prove?

Jordan Lee will have plenty of opportunities to make his return to the Elites known, but I have to believe he is highly motivated to get off to a hot start. Lee is a talented angler that has proven the ability to win in all parts of the country,


My first inclination was to join the crown and pick Ben Milliken, but I realized it would be a tall feat to back up last year’s win and the anglers will be fishing two months earlier. Then I remember a young Cody Huff won an early season event on Toledo Bend fishing for suspended bass in a way that started to shift the way these early season events are attacked by today’s top anglers.

Impact Angler

Ben Milliken splashed on the Bassmaster tournament scene last year when he backed up a 5th place at Eufala with a splashy win at Toledo Bend in April of 2023.  A large percentage of Fantasy Fishing players like his chances in the Bassmaster Elite opener – might not be a terrible decision to follow suit.


JT Thompkins dominated the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Qualifiers. It’s time to see if he can keep it going at the top level, and I am going to give him a shot in the season opener.  I really believe this rookie class will make an impact, so I am putting my picks where my mouth is.

Youth Movement

The youngest angler in the field Trey McKinney was super solid in the Bassmaster EQs and showed us that he can catch bass across the country. The Illinois anglers was runner up to Ben Milliken on Toledo Bend last season where he cashed seven of nine checks in the Bassmaster Opens.


Louisiana’s own Logan Latuso has had solid success on Toledo Bend in Bassmaster Opens, and he kicked off the 2023 Elite Season with a Top 10. Putting those two nuggets together makes him a value pick in Bucket D.

Go Big or Go Home

It’s hard to have a conversation about anglers that have left their imprint on East Texas bass fishing without mentioning Keith Combs. Combs has plenty of wins on Rayburn and other area fisheries. This Texan is always a threat in his home state when it’s a slugfest event.


Wesley Gore had a solid event in the 2023 Bassmaster Open on Toledo Bend. Also, after talking to Gore over the winter, I feel like Gore has a bass finding system that will make him a safe pick for most of the 2024 Fantasy Fishing campaign.

History Lesson

About this same time of year in 2019, Marc Frazier scored a seventh-place on Toledo Bend. The lake has shifted in the right direction since then and electronics have opened new areas of Toledo Bend, but if you are looking for an off the radar pick, take a chance on Frazier.

Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

Now onto season four of the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge. This additional Fantasy Fishing game not only offers a fresh way to play the game, but a completely separate prize pool. Drain the Lake is an elimination or survivor style game where you can only use an angler once all season. 

In  2024 we will have 10 events and 104 anglers. You will need to use up 80 of the 104 anglers plus a few Bassmaster Classic anglers throughout the season, so plan accordingly. Do you want to use Brandon Palanuik early in Texas or do you want to save him for a smallmouth event at the end of the season?

Here is my Toledo Bend Drain the Lake roster:

• Ben Milliken
• Tyler Rivet
• Marc Frazier
• Logan Latuso
• Greg Hackney
• Trey McKinney
• Wesley Gore
• John Garrett