Rayburn is great and will get better


Nate Sims

If you have been tuning into Bassmaster LIVE, I don’t have to tell you that Lake Sam Rayburn is a pretty amazing fishery right now.

Admittedly, I didn’t do much the first day of the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest to show off the lake. Although my total weight didn’t show what this lake is capable of producing, the tournament is illustrating just how good the bass fishing is here.

And man, are we catching a lot of bass. I caught more than 100 yesterday but couldn’t get the big bites that I needed to move higher in the standings.

I know they live here, and it can happen on any cast. That’s what a lot of fellow Elite anglers are saying as well.

I came over here and fished earlier this year when I didn’t make the Toledo Bend cut and can’t tell you how many fish I caught in one day. It had to be in the hundreds. I hadn’t been here since the last time the Elites fished here in 2006 and was blown away about how much better it has become.

The lake has an incredible population of 1 to 3 pound bass, thanks to improved habitat over the years. When it comes to numbers of fish, it’s fishing better than any lake we’ve been to for several years.

Again, it’s about improved habitat. A few years back, the lake was in a drought which dried out the silt in the shallows and hardened it which in turn promoted new growth of plant life. Once the lake refilled and retained normal pool, the fish benefited from the new habitat.

In fact all fish have benefited, including the shad, crappie and catfish.

They had excellent spawns the past couple of years which is why we’re catching so many young bass. In addition, the hydrilla blossomed and that has provided more excellent habitat.

And since there weren’t any crazy fluctuations this spring, those fish should make it through the season and the grass should expand throughout the lake. Look for it to be even better next year.

Growth rates on this lake are running about a pound or two a year after the fish approach keeper size, which leads me to believe the lake will be even more fabulous in a couple of years. These fish we’re catching now will be 3 to 5 pounds.

Of course, so much is contingent on Mother Nature. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists have always been national leaders in fish management and do an excellent job. They have a biologist assigned to each major lake and they are constantly monitoring the fishery.

I also think bass fishermen are doing a better job of preserving the fishery, whether it’s a matter of taking better care of the tournament bass or those fish they catch while fishing for fun.

Obviously, there are some variables that can affect a fishery that biologists can’t control, but the Texas staff definitely makes recreational fishing a high priority. They also understand the importance of good habitat like hydrilla but also know that there are some aquatic plants like giant Salvinia they have to keep in check because of how it can choke out big sections of a lake.

The TPWD understands how important recreational fishing is to the state and local economies and want to keep their lakes as productive as they can be.

Nobody does it better than they do!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.