One of the oldest, most famous fisheries in the country, Toledo Bend Reservoir has been one of the best big bass factories in the world for many years, and those genes continue to thrive in the lake today. So far in 2023, the lake record for a five-bass limit was shattered with a 42-pound bag and the lake record largemouth was also caught, a bass that weighed 16.67 pounds.
Miles and miles of flooded standing timber are the trademark of Toledo Bend. So much standing timber, in fact, that boat lanes zig zag across the lake to help boaters navigate the lake safely. There are sweet spots in that standing timber that will hold numbers and quality of bass. Up shallow, there are cypress trees and clay banks the bass love to use to eat threadfin and gizzard shad. When the water is high, buck brush and bushes come into play in a big way, particularly in the springtime when the bass are wanting to spawn.
Depending on the spring rains, sight fishing can be the ticket to catching a personal best when the bass are on their beds.
Vegetation is also making a comeback in Toledo Bend, with hydrilla being the key ingredient.
“The hydrilla is really back in the lake this year, and when the hydrilla flourishes, it is amazing. The lake is doing well and there are a lot of big, big fish,” Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Toledo Bend native Darold Gleason said.
Although plenty of spotted bass called Toledo Bend home, the lunker largemouth are what make Toledo Bend such a destination fishery. But bass fishing isn’t the only standout species in the lake. The crappie population is excellent on Toledo Bend, and there are several guide services that help anglers get on these types of fish.
While there’s a good chance anglers can catch a behemoth bass in any section of the lake, Toledo Bend has several hot spot areas. Indian Mounds and Housen Bay see plenty of boats every day of the week as well as the creeks and bays close to the Pendleton Bridge.
There is never a bad time of year to fish Toledo Bend, but February through May provides opportunities to fish both offshore and shallow while also allowing anglers to fish all day in comfortable conditions. Just keep an eye on the wind and storm forecast. Toledo Bend can be unforgiving when the wind kicks up and severe storms roll in.
Lay of the lake: Just southwest of Shreveport, La., Toledo Bend Reservoir stretches 65 miles on the Sabine River, with waters in both Texas and Louisiana. The massive reservoir covers around 185,000 acres and is a hot spot for freshwater enthusiasts from both states. Many, La., and the Sabine Parish Tourist & Recreation Commission host major tournaments at Cypress Bend Park, with the St. Croix Rods Bassmaster Open stopping there this year.
Trivia: Similar to the Toyota ShareLunker program in Texas, Toledo Bend has its own Lunker Bass Program. To be entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, anglers must catch a bass of more than 10 pounds. As of April 18, 2023, 53 largemouth have been entered into that program since May of 2022.
Where to stay: Campgrounds are aplenty around the shores of Toledo Bend as well as several hotels like Wildwood Resort and Cypress Bend Resort.
Marinas and ramps: Popular boat ramps on Toledo Bend include Cypress Bend Park, Big Bass Marina, North Toledo Bend State Park, San Miguel Park Boat Ramp and Harbor Light Marina.
Good eats: El Patio Mexican restaurant is just up the road from Cypress Bend Park and has an excellent variety that will keep visitors coming back for more.