ZAPATA, Texas — If Matt Reed's practice is any indication, Falcon Lake could produce numbers that will shatter everything in the BASS recordbook.Proof of that starts Thursday when the Bassmaster Elite Series pros begin the Lone Star Shootout presented by Longhorn on this 83,654-acre Rio Grande River reservoir.Reed caught a five-bass limit estimated at 48 pounds during one of the three practice days this week at Falcon."It was the best day of fishing I've had in my life," said the 35-year-old Madisonville, Texas, angler, "especially when you consider that I was pulling up on one spot, catching one, and then going somewhere else."The BASS single day record for a five-bass limit is 45 pounds, 2 ounces, set by Dean Rojas on Florida's Lake Toho in January 2001. Several of the Elite Series pros think that record and Steve Kennedy's four-day total weight mark of 122-14, set last year at California's Clear Lake, are in jeopardy this week.
"If Kennedy's record isn't broken, something went majorly wrong," said Mike McClelland, who has won three Elite Series titles over the past two-plus seasons of the tour. "I don't think 20 pounds will put you in the top 50 after the first day."In the first two Elite Series events this year, both in Florida, first at the Harris Chain of Lakes and then at the Kissimmee Chain last month, every angler in the field was hoping for a 4-pound bass that would make a world of difference in his total weight each day. A 4-pounder isn't likely to stay in the livewell long, if at all, this week, according to Reed.
The guys that fish team tournaments down here won't put a 4-pounder in the livewell," Reed said. "I'm going to put a 4-pounder in the livewell, until I catch something bigger. On the second day of practice, my little one (of his 5 biggest bass) was 7 pounds. But I didn't catch one over 8 that day."Reed's first practice on Monday was when his eyes started bugging out after he saw what Falcon Lake held. He caught two bass conservatively estimated at 11 pounds each"My scales wouldn't weigh them," Reed said. "I know what a 10-pound bass looks like, and these weren't 10-pounders."This is the best fishery I've ever seen, and I've fished some in Mexico that were awesome. This stands right up there with them. I can't believe it, but it does."
The reason Reed was initially skeptical of Falcon's recent reputation is that it hasn't always been that good. In fact, it fell off the charts in the 1990s when low water levels reduced it to a 13,000-acre lake. It stayed low long enough for what passes for timber in southern Texas grew up around the low-water shoreline. Now all that timber is flooded and the Florida-strain largemouth bass have flourished."The first big fish I hooked Monday, I never turned him," Reed said. "He just took off and started connecting the dots in that timber. I broke off 50-pound (test) braid trying to get him out.
"Somebody is going to have 100 pounds after three days. I really believe that. It's going to be different than anything we've ever seen. We've always had one or two tournaments (each year) where somebody really catches them sight-fishing. But this is totally different. It's just fishing. It's a lot of fun."
When Reed says "just fishing," he's talking about the fact that bass can be caught in Falcon Lake from the surface to depths of 35 or 40 feet right now. Every angler in the field can fish to his strengths and have a chance to find big fish.
Wind is the only thing that could put a damper on the weights this week, when high temperatures are predicted to be in the 90s every day. The way Falcon is located geographically and it's long, relatively narrow footprint makes it vulnerable to southeast or northwest winds.Wind could really hamper your ability to fish the way you want to," McClelland said.
And then there's the opinion of Ish Monroe to put a damper on all this big bass, recordbook talk from Falcon. The 33-year-old Hughson, Calif., resident has spent many days on Clear Lake, where Kennedy set the four-day record, and he has a second home on Texas' Lake Amistad, where Derek Remitz won last year with 111-7, the fourth-highest total in a four-day BASS event."It's going to be good," Monroe said. "But 30 pounds a day? That ain't ever been done. At Clear Lake, there are multiple 10-pounders under one (boat) dock. This place doesn't have multiple 10-pounders in one spot.
"It's going to be a totally different ballgame with the pressure from this tournament. I think 10 guys might have 30-pound bags the first day. The second day, maybe two or three guys will have 30 pounds. The third day, maybe one."
Whether the most optimistic or the most pessimistic prediction becomes reality, as Monroe said, "It's going to be good."
That reality begins to unfold with Wednesday's 9 a.m. ET takeoff at the Zapata County public boat ramp at Lake Falcon Park. Daily weigh-ins at the park begin at 5 p.m. ET each day.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Lone Star Shootout on Falcon Lake, from Zapata, Texas, April 3–6, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 5:50pm ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 5:15 p.m. ET.