When the Bassmaster Elite Series last visited Toledo Bend in early May 2014, Jacob Powroznik won by focusing on the shad spawn, and also by mixing in some sight fishing during the final day when the wind laid down. The remaining Top 5 finishers, however, all caught their fish in relation to the grass.
I expect the shad spawn and sight fishing to again play a role next week when the Elites return to Toledo Bend, but I’m picking anglers whose biggest strength is fishing grass. The wind doesn’t have to be calm and the shad don’t have to be active in order for these anglers to catch fish.
BUCKET A: THARP
Randall Tharp is fishing strong right now, especially following his first Elite Series victory at Bull Shoals/Norfork. He’s also one of the most talented grass anglers in the field. His confidence is high, and that is a key factor in my selections this time around.
Tharp proved how well his skills match up with Toledo Bend when he placed third in 2014. He kept the flipping stick in his hand for the entire event and covered miles of water making as many flips as possible.
I know there’s stout competition in Bucket A, but he’s still my pick.
Seriously considered: Kelly Jordon
A broken wrist ended Jordon’s 2015 season early, but he’s clearly bounced back from that unfortunate injury, and he’s fishing well this year. He’s currently 11th in the AOY race — that’s a strong place to be.
Jordon, a Texas angler, has ample prior experience on Toledo Bend and is a very talented grass and sight fishermen. He’ll do well on Toledo Bend this year.
BUCKET B: CROCHET
I ran into Cliff Crochet on the water during the 2014 Toledo Bend event and later learned that he picked apart that same area in route to a Top 12 finish. I realize the area he fished last time may not be holding the same quality fish, or he may have more company this time, but he’s still a solid pick for this event.
He’s a shallow-water power angler who loves catching big bass from the vegetation.
Seriously considered: Todd Faircloth
Faircloth is always a threat to win when fishing a lake full of vegetation like Toledo Bend. He finished ninth in 2014, and he’ll have another strong event this year. Faircloth will receive a lot of well-deserved attention by Fantasy Fishing players at this tournament.
BUCKET C: B. LANE
Bobby Lane, a Florida native, grew up fishing vegetation, and he’s always dangerous with a flipping stick in his hand. Lane is also coming off a fifth-place finish at Wheeler, and he’s an angler who consistently puts together strong back-to-back events.
Seriously considered: Ott DeFoe
DeFoe is a crafty angler who does a great job at cracking the current conditions, and he isn’t afraid to make quick adjustments during an event. Even though he may not be one of the more popular grass anglers in the field, he’s as skilled as anyone.
DeFoe started the season slow, but has recovered nicely with two finishes in the Top 30.
BUCKET D: M. DAVIS
Mark Davis finished fourth on Toledo Bend in 2014 and is one of the few anglers in the field willing to slow down and fish a Carolina rig. He likes to focus on the hard-bottom areas near the grass lines and scattered clumps to intercept both postspawn fish moving out from the bank and those still moving in to spawn.
Davis has proven he can catch heavy limits of bass all over the country, especially on well-known grass lakes like Toledo Bend and Guntersville. He’s done very well on Toledo Bend historically, and there’s no reason to think he’ll do otherwise this year.
Seriously considered: Chris Lane
Like his brother Bobby, Chris Lane is one of the most experienced grass anglers on tour right now and should be considered any time there’s an opportunity to compete on a grass-dominated fishery like Toledo Bend.
BUCKET E: MORGENTHALER
In preparation for the 2014 Toledo Bend event, Chad Morgenthaler successfully accomplished what I couldn’t — commit to one area of the lake. He stayed focused and left his trolling motor in the water once he discovered the potential of where he was fishing. The strategy nearly paid off as he ended up finishing second.
Expect a strong showing from him again this year.
Seriously considered: Chad Grigsby
Chad Grigsby has the grass- and sight-fishing experience that makes him a worthy pick. I know he hasn’t had a strong showing during his first year on the Elite Series, but he’s a very talented angler. C. Grigsby will do well at Toledo Bend.