FRISCO, Texas -- If everything is bigger in Texas, then it should go without saying the bass are bigger, too. Brent Ehrler found that to be the case in last year’s Toyota Texas Bass Classic, and hopes to repeat this year.
Ehrler caught a 10-pound, 11-ounce lunker late on the final day, helping him rally on Lake Fork to win $150,000 in cash and prizes as well as a Toyota Tundra for biggest bass.
“To have a fish that size, and know that it was worth a Tundra, and the possibility of actually winning the tournament as well, it was a really big fish,” Ehrler said.
A fish that size this week would go a long way in the 2016 TTBC. The event launches Friday with 38 of the nation’s top anglers fishing two days on Lake Ray Roberts, north of Toyota Stadium in Frisco -- the site of the Toyota Texas Fest. The field is then cut to ten on Sunday.
With the top 15 anglers from both B.A.S.S. and FLW, along with big-name exemptions such as Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli, it’s an all-star tournament.
“You take the best from B.A.S.S., best from FLW, past winners, it’s a full deck, for sure,” Ehrler said.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the TTBC, and the concurrent festival again features a myriad of activities, great food and top-flight entertainers. The event partner is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which has received $2.25M to date for youth and urban outreach programs.
“About 100,000 people a year benefit from this program and about 50,000 of those are new to fishing,” said Dave Terre, chief of research and management for TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division.
The event also has serves to showcase Texas’ bass fisheries. Ehrler’s 10-11 big bass last year anchored a 31-8 bag and gave him a three-day total of 89-12. That average of nearly 30 pounds a day makes anglers take notice.
TPWD has “done a great job sustaining, maintaining and also increasing the fish and fishing,” Ehrler said.
“They’ve done a lot to help out the habitat, help out the fish, and really increase the overall fishing of the bodies of water.”
Last year at Fork, Ehrler said he only fished deep because he knew that’s where it was going to be won. He’s only seen a couple of small zones on Ray Roberts from an event several years ago, so he said he hasn’t yet figured out how he will fish. And the anglers didn’t get any clues from Thursday’s pro-am on Lake Ray Hubbard, not with rain and winds shortening the event.
“It’s hard to say; the fishing here is different. The weights are way higher at Lake Fork,” he said. “The weights aren’t going to be remotely close here. I don’t know if we’re going to see a 10-pounder. Yet anytime you’re in Texas, there’s potential for a 10-pounder.”
The 38 anglers will launch from Isle Du Bois Lake Ray Roberts State Park at 7 a.m. daily. Admission is free. There are judges on each boat to weigh and enter weights into a live leaderboard. Their five heaviest fish toward their total. The fish are released immediately, but each angler may bring in their single largest fish longer than 21 inches to the weigh-ins, which begin at 5:30 p.m. in Toyota Stadium.
Only the top 10 anglers fish Sunday, when one will be awarded $100,000 and Z20 Nitro.
A team of videographers from JM Associates will produce a TTBC show that will air on NBCSports.