2023 Season Schedule and New Qualifying Rules

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (July 18, 2022) – The Texas Team Trail (TXTT) presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s recently unveiled the schedule for the 2023 season, which includes stops at some of the most popular tournament bass lakes in the country. In addition to releasing its schedule, Texas Team Trail announced plans for changes to how anglers qualify for the Championship, as well as a new robust Team of the Year program that will reward teams for top finishes based on their season-long performance.

 

Each of the regular season events will feature a boat-and-motor combination for 1st place, as well as a payout that rewards teams for owning a variety of boats, motors, and other items.  Ranger Boats, Nitro Boats, Triton Boats, Garmin, and other brands will reward eligible teams with additional prizes based on their finishes in regular season events. The 2023 regular season kicks off February 18 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir – a favorite stop for many TXTT anglers – for what promises to be a pre-spawn slugfest.

 

The TXTT then returns to the famed Sam Rayburn on March 25, a guaranteed shallow water slugfest during the spawn. Next up, the series goes north to famed Texas reservoir Lake Ray Roberts for an event on April 22 for another shallow water slugfest, based on history. This event will also feature on-site activation by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, including inflatables, games, and fun for the whole family. Rounding out the regular season qualifying events is a stop at Richland Chambers Reservoir on May 6.

 

This body of water hasn’t been visited by the Texas Team Trail in many years and will be set up perfectly for anglers targeting post-spawn fish. Based on points standing from the regular season at the conclusion of this event, the top 75 teams will move on to the two-day Championship to fish for the first-place boat-and-motor combination prize and many additional prizes.

 

Championship location and date to be announced. At the conclusion of the TXTT Championship event, the prestigious Lucas Oil Team of the Year will be named, and the all-new Bass Pro Shops Team of the Year payout will reward the top 10 teams in the final point standings.

 

Anglers should stand by for additional information on the events, contingency prizes, and more announcements in the near future. For more information on updated angler qualifications, please visit www.texasteamtrail.com.

 

2023 TXTT scheduled events:

  • February 18 – Sam Rayburn
  • March 25 – Sam Rayburn
  • April 22 – Ray Roberts
  • May 6 – Richland Chambers
  • Championship – TBD

 

Texas Team Trail events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Nitro Boats, Triton Boats, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Garmin, Power-Pole, AFTCO, Sunline, Protect the Harvest, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, and Duckett Rods.

Watch as Sharp & Thompson Overcome High Winds to Win Texoma!

Watch all the action from Lake Texoma and the 2022 Texas Team Trail Presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.  It was a windy day on the great border lake but the team of Micheal Sharp & Johnny Thompson were able to overcome the high winds and won with a total weight of 19.68lbs!   They walked away with a brand new Nitro Z18 w/150 Mercury ProXS + Angler Advantage + $500 in Garmin Tournament Rewards bonus money!!

 

 

Be sure and follow the Texas Team Trail Website, Facebook pages and other assets for updates on the exciting 2023 programs and opportunities for anglers to win more than ever.

 

Outdoor Action TV is the fastest growing digital streaming network where outdoor enthusiasts can find all the best fishing, hunting, and tournament coverage around — be sure to download the app on your iOS or Android phone, or Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and more.

 

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Watch Nolan & Jackson Win at Cedar Creek – and see their 7.02 pound KICKER!

Watch all the action now from the Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s from Cedar Creek Reservoir.  You’ll see action from the water, highlights of the Lucas Oil Team of the Year race, and we’ll offer up congratulations to Drew Sloan & Nolan Jackson, who won  the event with a weight of 26.57lbs. — anchored by a 7.02lbs. kicker.

 

Be sure and follow the Texas Team Trail Website, Facebook pages and other assets for updates on the exciting 2023 programs and opportunities for anglers to win more than ever.

 

 

Outdoor Action TV is the fastest growing digital streaming network where outdoor enthusiasts can find all the best fishing, hunting, and tournament coverage around — be sure to download the app on your iOS or Android phone, or Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and more.

 

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | #texasteamtrail

Watch All the Action from Sam Rayburn Reservoir

 

Now Streaming! Watch all the action now from the Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s from Sam Rayburn Reservoir.  You’ll see on the water action from the top-rated team tournament trail in Texas, and we’ll see the winners, Hunter Marshall and Trace O’Dell, in action winning the first event of the 2022 TXTT season with 28.16 pounds.

 

Be sure and follow the Texas Team Trail Website, Facebook pages and other assets for updates on the exciting 2023 programs and opportunities for anglers to win more than ever.  

 

 

Outdoor Action TV is the fastest growing digital streaming network where outdoor enthusiasts can find all the best fishing, hunting, and tournament coverage around — be sure to download the app on your iOS or Android phone, or Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and more.

 

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | #texasteamtrail  

JOHNSON and ALBRECHT take home the WIN

Michael Johnson and Byron Albrecht have fished together competitively for 12 years, but none of their previous outings compare to their victorious run to the Texas Team Trail Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s held Saturday and Sunday on Lake Whitney.

Johson and Albrecht caught a limit on both days of the championship for a total of 10 bass weighing 41.32 pounds. After weighing five bass for 19.56 on Day 1, they registered the big bag of the tournament on Sunday – a 21.76-pound haul that vaulted the duo from third place to the championship title.  They also caught the big bass of the tournament, an 8.64-pound kicker on Sunday, that helped seal the win.

The victory earned the pair a Z519 Ranger bass boat with a Mercury 225 ProXS motor. Combined with Angler Advantage and Big Bass Award bonuses, they totaled $59,997 in cash and prizes over the weekend.

In all, 86 teams competed in the championship for a total purse of $120,915 in cash and prizes.

“It’s hard to put into words how nice this is,” Johnson said. “We’ve fished together so long and put in so much work. It’s really special to say you’ve won a boat against the guys we competed against this weekend. There are some really good sticks on the TXTT.”

Johnson, 42 and from Crawford, Tex., hooked the big bass using a dark-colored creature bait. It came off a brush pile at about 9 a.m. Sunday when the duo had only a pair of bass in the live well.

“That was the kicker we were looking for,” Johnson said. “We came into the second day sitting in third place and that fish took a whole lot of pressure off us. After that, we figured we had a chance if we could get two more fish in the boat.”

At first, however, Johnson wasn’t even sure the 8-pounder was a bass.

“We caught two big channel cats yesterday, one about 10 pounds and another about 15 pounds,” he said. “I honestly thought today’s big one was another catfish. Byron saw it and said, ‘No, that’s a bass! Let’s not horse around with that one.’”

Johnson and Albrecht, who hails from nearby Waco, are quite familiar with Lake Whitney – a 23,500-acre impoundment of the Brazos River southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They used that intimate knowledge to amass a list of more than 80 favorable brush piles they could hit during the championship. Steady winds on both days of the tournament, however, often forced them to shallow water. When on the banks, they favored chartreuse/white spinner baits to boat their best bites. 

“We started shallow (on Sunday),” Albrecht said. “Once we had one or two in the boat, it helped settle the nerves. When we went out and got that 8-pounder in the boat, that allowed us to go back shallow and finish the limit.”

Albrecht, 48, said he and Johnson have developed a unique chemistry in their dozen years of competing together. Some of their communication is verbal, he said, but many times, they work instinctively.

“He’s as good as anybody I’ve seen out of back of boat,” Albrecht said. “He reads and understands what I’m doing. We’re like peanut butter and jelly. He knows when I’m doing one thing, to do something different. If I throw to one pole, he knows to throw to the other. 

“And we have this thing, when of us might not be having the best day, the other one has a really good day. Yesterday, I was on and today, he was. It worked out for us.”

Lee and Whitley take second 

Russell Lee and Garret Whitley finished second in the championship with a two-day total of 10 bass that weighed 36.09 pounds. Their haul of cash and prizes, including a Z518 Ranger and Mercury 150 Pro XS, totaled $48,803, including $500 for being the team using Garmin electronics to finish highest in the tournament.

“After practice, we thought we’d be pretty good fishing brush piles offshore, but come Saturday and Sunday, it got tough to do that,” Lee said. “I caught one about five pounds on Saturday cranking a brush pile then we went four or five hours without anything. Near the end of the day, we went back and caught a 6 ½ pounder and another 5-pounder.”

Lee said the biggest bass wanted Texas-rigged Xcite Maximus worms (10 inches, plum and red bug colors).

The team was in second place after Day 1 as well, with a 20.33-pound limit. They slipped a bit with 15.76 pounds on Sunday, but Lee was pleased with the outcome.

“We only had six keeper bites on Saturday and we caught five,” he said. “Today, we had seven or eight keepers. But it’s OK to get second when you still get that boat. Finishing second against some of the best anglers in the state is a proudctive weekend.”

Stafford and Moore take third place

Brett Stafford and Shane Moore, who led the championship after Day 1, finished third overall with a two-day total of 35.28. They earned $2,154 for their season-ending efforts.

“We were where we wanted to be (on Saturday),” they said after the weigh-in. “We wanted to be in position to win. But we were one dimensional. We fished brush piles the whole time we were here. We knew the wind and clouds wouldn’t help our bite (on Sunday), and we missed a couple of good ones.”

Eric and Zane Washington worked the Lake Whitney brush piles efficiently, finishing fourth overall with a 10-bass total weighing 32.11. Seth Furmanek and Robert Kettner placed fifth 31.75 over two days, including an 8.21-pound heavy caught on a drop-shot on Sunday. The duo collected $1,365 in the tournament.

Rounding out the Top 10 are, sixth, Jordan Grimm and Jud Harris, 28.73, $1,121; seventh, Lee Batson and John Fleming, 28.26, $1,299 (w/ Ranger bonus); eighth, Brannon Mire and Ben Matsubu, 27.67, $977; ninth, Paul Stokes and John Guerra, 27.07, $905; and 10th, Garrett Dokter and Courtney Hobgood, 26.16, $833.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

Imhoff and London nab TOY title

Will Imhoff and Shane London clinched the trail’s Team of the Year honors on Sunday after finishing in 11th place at the championship on Lake Whitney with a two-day total of 24.68 pounds.

Imhoff and London started the Texas Team Trail season off right with a seventh-place finish on Lake Amistad in March. Though they slipped to 80th in the May 7 competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, they rebounded to finish fifth at Rayburn on May 8.

Imhoff and London finished with 669 points in 2021 team scoring. 

“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Imhoff said after he and London collected their Team of the Year trophies. “This was our first year ever to fish any kind of team series. Shane and I were a little skeptical about how we would compete, but we fished some good events. We thought that bobble on the first day at Rayburn would shoot us in the foot. To prevail today is pretty exciting.”

“We fished hard and there are a lot of really good guys out here fishing hard,” London said. “There are no words for this.”

Brian Shook and Danny Iles placed second in Team of the Year scoring with 651 points. Lance Robella and Cody Pratka (648 points) were third, Jason Truitt and Johnny Ray were fourth (647) and the Lee-Whitley team was fifth (639). Click here for FULL TOY STANDINGS

Whitney’s Water Level Could Impact TXTT Championship

By David A. Brown

Given the heavy rainfall much of Texas has experienced in recent weeks, Casey Bennet believes water level could play a significant role in determining how Lake Whitney performs for the Texas Team Trail Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, June 5-6.

Setting the scene, Whitney is a flood control reservoir on the main stem of the Brazos River in North Texas. Created in 1951, this 23,500-acre lake was impounded by its namesake earthen dam; a 166-foot high structure owned and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

With a maximum depth of 108 feet, Whitney stretches 45 river miles long and 4 miles wide. This year’s spring rains raised the lake level about 6 feet and pushed it about 4 1/4 feet into flood pool a week and a half before the championship. Bennet, who makes his home in Waco, about 40 minutes from Whitney, said the fluctuation will likely impact clarity, as well as angling opportunity.

“It’s still almost 3 1/2 feet high (a week prior to the tournament); it came down half a foot overnight, so (the USACE) is letting out some water pretty quick,” Bennet said. “It’ll probably stay high by the time we get to the tournament.

“On the dam side, it’s pretty clear; you can see 5-6 feet, maybe 10 feet in some places on the south end,” Bennet said. “Up on the river end, it’s pretty muddy.”

Having recently fished a few local tournaments on Whitney, Bennet said the fishing has been a little tough. Catching fish isn’t a problem, he said; it’s the consistent quality that’s been harder to find.

June is typically transition time, as most postspawn fish pull out of their spawning areas and head for deeper waters. This spring has been less regimented, as the lake’s up-and-down water story seems to have the fish off schedule.

“With the high water, some fish have been heading to the bank,” Bennet said. “I don’t think we’ll be in a pure summertime pattern. The fish are kind of half and half — they’re really confused with the water going up and down so much.

“The (Corps) lets water out of that lake every day regardless because it produces electricity for (local communities), but they’ve been letting out twice as much as they normally do.”

Noting that the entire lake should be in play for the Championship, Bennet said he expects a mix of shallow and deep patterns. Both could produce quality bites and, at this point, it’s difficult to predict which has the greatest potential.

“I’ve caught some out deep, but I don’t think they’ll be way out there in their summer haunts in 30-40 feet of water,” Bennet said. “I think the tournament could be won in both ways — shallow or deep.

“That’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weekends in some local tournaments. It’s been about half and half.”

As Bennet points out, a the tail end of the shad spawn has been holding some big fish up shallow. Whitney’s mostly a rocky, gravelly lake, so big shallow rocks are the usual places to find shad spawns; but marinas and floating docks can also factor into this deal.

“It’s all timing and you have to be there at right time,” he said. “I don’t think it will last long in the morning. There’s some big old shad in that lake and a lot of big stripers. Sometimes those bass will roam with those stripers, so you never know if it’s bass or stripers blowing up on bait.”

Common shad spawn baits include spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, topwaters and squarebills. Beyond that, Bennet said he’d look to Whitney’s main lake points — possibly the secondary points, as well, since some fish may be following bait with the higher water. Medium to deep diving crankbaits should produce well.

For those remaining shallow after the shad spawn, fishing swim jigs around isolated bushes is a good bet; as is a buzzbait or a walking topwater. Flipping shallow targets with jigs and Texas-rigged plastics will always have a place in late spring tournaments — particularly given the current conditions. 

Bennet explains: “With all the high water, a lot of the crawfish have been flushed out of holes.”

For the offshore game, dragging football head jigs, Carolina rigs and big worms will complement the cranking. The big concern, Bennet said, could be the tournament’s weather.

“If the wind gets too high, the waves can get pretty big,” he said. “And with water up, there’s not much bank to break down waves.”

That being said, Bennet sees the potential for someone to hit a home run on the offshore stuff. With fish seasonally transitioning, a team could land on a group of recently arriving fish and have that gold mine to themselves.

All things considered, Bennet believes the winning total could reach the mid 40’s. He fully expects more than one team to weight 20-plus the first day. Two 20-pound bags will be tough, but not impossible and the team that adjusts well with the lake’s water level could end up holding the trophy. Take-off and Weigh-in will be at Loafers Bend Day Use Park. Weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. on both tournament days.

Bensema and McArdle Leverage Bluegill Spawn for TXTT Rayburn Win

BROOKELAND, Texas — Knowing when to pull the plug proved critical for Josh Bensema and Matthew McArdle who caught a 5-bass limit of 20.45 pounds and won the second of two back-to-back Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s events at Lake Sam Rayburn.

Hailing from Willis and Magnolia, Texas, respectively, Bensema and McArdle spent most of their day fishing the Canyons area near the 147 Bridge. Both had fared well there in a recent tournament, but the bite they sought wasn’t happening.

“At 1 o’clock we had two small keepers in the well and made the decision to go down to the Buck Bay area,” McArdle said. 

Plan B found them focusing their attention on flooded bushes in about 4-5 feet. That’s a common Rayburn scenario, but Bensema said he and his partner dialed one large bush with a few smaller bushes on its perimeter. The lane between them was money.

“I think bluegill were spawning around this bush; that’ s the only way to explain 20 pounds of bass coming off one bush,” Bensema said. “This would have been the main plan about a week ago before that water came up, but once it rose, that spread the fish out. It was those bluegill beds that kept the fish on this one bush.”

Describing a 1-2 punch strategy, Bensema said McArdle skipped a 3/8-ounce shad pattern Santone Swim jig with a white Strike King Menace through the gap and kept it high in the water column. Meanwhile, Bensema worked the bottom with a 1/2-ounce Buckeye Football Mop Jig in peanut butter and jelly with a Big Bite Baits College Craw in tilapia. Covering both levels was key, but precision proved essential

“Definitely, it was an angle deal,” McArdle said. “There was plenty of water behind this bush, but you had to make the perfect cast to bring your bait through a specific area. I think it just lined up with the bream beds and kept our baits in the strike zone longer.”

Noting that the flooded bush pattern exceeded their expectations, Benesema said he and McArdle visited their key spot three times between 1 and 2:30. Thanks to the bream bed attraction, the spot kept reloading and each subsequent visit produced at least one good fish that contributed to their overall weight.

For their efforts Bensema and McArdle earned a Nitro Z18 with a Mercury 150 Pro XS. In addition, they claimed $2,370 of Anglers Advantage cash and a $500 Garmin electronics bonus. Their total payday was $36,465.

Wilson-Flowers second

Kris Wilson and Brandon Flowers bucked the trend, did their own thing and sacked up a second-place limit that went 19.49. Staying in the mid-lake region, they targeted postspawn fish that were leaving the shallows.

“With the water being high, it had (most) of the competitors up in the bushes, so we stayed away from the bushes and focused on places in 12-16 feet of water where they were coming out,” Wilson said. “Hard bottom was the key; a couple of places had shell.”

Wilson and Flowers caught their fish on dragging presentations. Specifically, they threw a 3/4-ounce football jig with a Strike King Rage Bug trailer and Carolina rigs with a mix of flukes, Zoom Brush Hogs and straight tail worms.

For second place, Wilson and Flowers won $7,163, which included $1,738 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Griffin-Tidwell third

Mike Griffin and Larry Tidwell focused their efforts on secondary points with flooded bushes and trees in 8-12 feet of water and placed third with 19.44. While their morning yielded only small fish on moving baits, they found their success by slowing down and Carolina rigging a Junebug Zoom Magnum Lizard and dropshotting a 6-inch Roboworm in the margarita mutilator color.

“We figured they would be up shallower with the higher water, but the big fish were out deeper, so we went out deeper,” Griffin said. “We caught 20 keepers today and the dropshot produced the most. They wanted it really slow today.”

For third place, Griffin and Tidwell won $4,835, which included $1,580 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Goodwyn-Crelia fourth, Imhoff-London fifth

TJ Goodwyn and Phillip Crelia weighed five bass worth 19.26 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $4,598 (including the $1,085 Big Bass bonus for their 7.31). Behind them was Will Imhoff and Shane London with 18.81 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $2,812.50

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams:

6th: Mark Martin—Chris McClain – 16.81
7th: Ed Whaley—Darren Sebek – 16.51
8th: Todd Castledine—Jason Bonds – 16.02
9th: Brian Shook-Danny Iles – 16.01
10th: Robert Emmert-Kody Emmert – 15.65

Castledine and Bonds are leading the Team of the Year standings. Castledine said finishing eighth exemplified the mindset he and Bonds bring to each event.

DOUBLE DIP LIFTS HILL AND FRAZIER TO FRIDAY RAYBURN WIN

By David A. Brown

BROOKELAND, Texas — If it worked once it should work again: That philosophy  delivered the win for Tommy Hill and Bubba Frazier, who topped the first of two back-to-back Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s events at Lake Sam Rayburn with a 5-bass limit that weighed 22.91 pounds.

Fishing the mid-lake region, the anglers from Tyler, Texas started their day targeting a creek drop in about 5 feet of water. Slinging a Carolina rig with a Zoom Super Fluke in the California 420 color, Frazier tempted his team’s biggest fish — a 7.48 — on their first cast. About 5 hours later, lightning struck twice and Frazier added a 6-pounder on the same spot.

Frazier said recent rains have raised Rayburn’s water level about two feet in the past week and a half. This, he said, has created tough conditions and displaced fish.

“We’re on the water a lot and we had these areas that we knew were good, but then it got muddy and shut them down,” Frazier said. “It cleared up and the right fish were there.”

Hill said he believes the rising water has also made it difficult to stay on top of the spawning cycle. “I think there are probably still a few on beds, but I think it’s mostly postspawn. I bed fish a lot, but you can’t hardly stay with them with the lake coming up like it is.”

After their morning bite faded, the winners transitioned to a more active strategy of targeting main lake hay grass with 7/16-ounce Santone swim jigs. Using Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers in the white trash color, their mid-morning plan was one of mobility.

“We put the trolling motor on 50 percent and covered a lot of water,” Frazier said. “We did better with the swim jigs when the wind was blowing.”

Around 12:30, Hill and Frazier decided to revisit their starting spot. The plan was to show up, eat a quick lunch and then focus on fishing. Frazier said a sudden interruption was most welcome.

“We were going to eat deer sausage wrap-ups, but I took one bite of my sandwich, I got a bite on my Carolina rig, set the hook and it was that second big fish,” Frazier said. “It was about the same cast that I made for the first fish.

“We’re old guys; we’re not going to go hungry on the water. We’re going to eat and Carolina rig and hope one bites while we’re eating.”

Noting that he and Frazier caught 15-20 keepers, Hill said they added their last limit fish — a 3 1/2-pounder — at 12:30. After that, they leisurely made their way back toward the weigh in site and allowed themselves a comfortable travel window.

“We quit an hour and 15 minutes (early) and then we just finished up around the ramp,” Hill said. “We knew that over 22 1/2 pounds would get a good check. We didn’t think it would win, but we didn’t want to be way up the lake and not be able to get back because of motor trouble or whatever.”

For their efforts Hill and Frazier earned a Nitro Z18 with a 150 Mercury ProXS. In addition, they claimed $2,445 of Anglers Advantage cash. Their total payday was $36,040.

Moorhead-Moorhead second

Jason Moorhead and Ty Moorhead found four of their five spots unfishable, but settling on one key area, they sacked up the second-place limit of 18.89 pounds. The Moorheads anchored their bag with a 7.23.

Jason Moorhead said they ran up the Attoyac arm and fished clay points with scattered stumps in 14-16 feet of water. It took them a while to dial in their search, but once they eliminated the unproductive areas, they got their work done in about two hours.

“We had five spots selected, but the mud (from recent rains) has been steadily working downstream and it blew out four of our spots,” Jason said. “We finally got on our last spot and caught our fish between 10 and 12.”

The Moorheads caught their fish on Carolina rigs with a fluke style baits in the watermelon red magic color on a 4-foot leader. Slowly dragging their baits through a saddle was the key.

For second place, the Moorheads won $7,393, which included $1,793 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Little-Shelman third

Shifting gears from practice paid off for John Little and Daniel Shelman who caught the third-place limit of 18.25 pounds. After starting their morning throwing spinnerbaits in Alligator Creek, Little and Shelman moved to Five Fingers Bay and Carolina rigged watermelon red lizards with the tails dyed chartreuse.

Little said they found the event’s biggest fish — an 8.66 — on a long point. With the rising water, the fish was in about 10 feet, but Little said its bloody tail likely indicated a spawner. 

The anglers also picked up a keeper near the entrance to Little Caney Creek and ended their day on the rock islands in front of the takeoff area. The latter yielded three good culls, including their second-biggest fish — a 3 3/4-pounder. Carolina rigs produced all of their fish.

Noting that he had been on a good flipping bite in practice, Little said he made the call Thursday night to change strategies. Using Garmin Livescope and Humminbird 360 to carefully read the bottom allowed him and Shelman to pinpoint their target areas and avoid bogging in hydrilla.

“I didn’t feel like (flipping bushes) was gong to be good enough today,” Little said. “With the water coming up, the bank is so far back I don’t think you can reach some of the places the fish are. I just made a change and was a good change.”

For third place, Little and Shelman won $6,860, which included $1,630 of Anglers Advantage cash, a $250 Ranger Boats bonus, a $500 electronics bonus and the $1,120 Big Bass bonus.

Wilson-Flowers fourth, Waguspack-Lloyd fifth

Kris Wilson and Brandon Flowers weighed five bass worth 18.18 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $3,626. Behind them was Anthony Waguspack and Jimmy Lloyd with 17.32 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $2,903.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams:

6th: Lance Robelia—Cody Pratka – 16.78

7th: Brian Shook — Danny Iles – 16.74

8th: Tony Rogers — Ed Klobas – 15.76

9th: Alton Powell-Bill Powell – 15.49

10th: Nathan Prine-Mike Scalise – 15.28Full Results

SOLITUDE KEY TO PERKINS AND GERZENYI’S AMISTAD WIN

By David A. Brown

DEL RIO, Texas — Avoiding crowds and fishing the most unassuming spots they could find allowed Mike Perkins and Stan Gerzenyi to sack up the winning limit of 23.46 pounds at the season-opener of the 2021 Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s at Lake Amistad.

Gerzenyi, who makes his home in Del Rio, said he and his partner stayed in the mid-lake region and focused their efforts on shallow rocky banks in the backs of pockets with deep water close. Such areas offered a twofold opportunity — spawners and prespawn staging fish.

“We were just going down the bank looking for bed fish and then we’d see some fish deep on the graph, so we’d turn around a make a cast out deep,” Gerzenyi said. “We ended up catching them shallow and in deep water near the bed fish.

“The bites we got were quality bites; we weren’t catching a lot of little ones. For some reason, the bed fish and the deep ones were a better size. We got lucky.”

Hailing from Dallas, Perkins said he and Gerzenyi were on the lookout for bare spots on the bank or rocks, which clearly indicated a bed. Those on rocks were most visible, due to the strong contrast, but both scenarios produced.

The winners mixed up their presentations by rotating through Texas-rigged worms and craws and a 1/2-ounce jig with a craw worm trailer. The same set of baits worked in the shallow and deep areas.

“We spent our time in some prime spawning areas and just looked around until we’d see a fish move,” Perkins said. “We worked on a few fish like this. We’d throw shallow and then we’d stop and throw deep.

“Once we’d find the fish, we’d see the smaller ones swimming shallow and then when we’d turn around, that’s when more quality bites came. We were fortunate to boat all the big ones we (hooked).”

Essential to their game plan, Gerzenyi said, was fishing places where they didn’t have much company.

“We fished a lot of off-the-wall places where we didn’t see a lot of boats; just little forgotten areas,” he said. “We stayed away from the popular creeks where boats were probably stacked up and we rotated on about a half dozen little no-name spots.”

Gerzenyi said he and his partner caught fish all day long, filled their limit around 11 and made a few key upgrades later in the day. Visibility was the key to their shallow water success.

“When the sun was up, you could see a lot better midday,” Gerzenyi said. “The wind was light and you’d get a little breeze every now and then, but it was definitely better midday with that sun.”

Around noon, they caught the event’s Big Bass — a 7.52 — off a bed. As Perkins recalls, they caught a lucky break, because the water in this particular area was less than ideal for sight fishing.

“The fish are pretty spooky; they haven’t been up shallow too long, so you’d have to spot them and give them some distance,” Perkins said. “We got lucky with that big one. We saw it early and were able to slow down and never get too close to her — that’s the reason we caught it.

“That big fish came from a spot that we had fished earlier in the day and we thought it looked good, so we went back again. We hit some of our spots twice and some of them three times. We caught fish at every one of them, but the quality fish were scattered.”

Describing the thrill of victory, Perkins said: “Stan and I have been fishing together since 2002, but we just started fishing tournaments together a couple years ago. We feel like we were overdue for a win because we’ve had some tournaments where we hooked some really big fish that would have won for us and we just couldn’t keep them buttoned up.

“We said ‘In 2021 we’re gonna win one of these tournaments.’ Stan actually pointed to this one when he saw the tournament schedule and said ‘We’re gonna win a boat in that tournament.’ It was fun seeing it happen.”

For their efforts Perkins and Gerzenyi earned a a fully-rigged Nitro Z18 with a 150 Mercury outboard. In addition, they claimed $1,380 of Anglers Advantage cash and $825 for the Big Fish award.

Thompson-Thompson second

Local father-son team Danny Thompson and Dylan Thompson spent their day in the Box Canyon area and focused on grass edges, points and ditches leading into spawning flats. Sticking with the 6- to 12-foot zone, they caught a second-place limit of 16.52 pounds.

An early bed-fishing effort failed to produce, so the Thompsons devoted most of their time to picking off prespawners with a Megabass Magdraft swimbait and Texas-rigged Zoom Speed Worms.

Later in the day, when sunny conditions moved fish into the shady cover of grass clumps, the Thompsons relocated to the back of a pocket and upgraded an earlier limit. This move coincided with a wind increase.

“The first hour of the morning, we had a 5- to 10-mph wind and we caught them pretty good,” Dylan said. “Then we lost that wind about 9 o’clock and it was dead until about 2 o’clock. In that last hour, we got some wind and it seemed to pick the bite up for us.

“I made some key culls in the last hour by punching a craw with a 1-ounce weight. So that was definitely a big move for us.”

For second place, Dylan Thompson and Danny Thompson won $4,125

Brauer-Moore third

Denny Brauer and Shane Moore began their day looking for the shallow bite, but making a key decision to scrap an unsatisfactory pattern and move offshore enabled them to catch a limit of 16.42 and finish third.

“We fished the mid-lake area and started out fishing some pretty flat water back in the bays and caught a few keepers, but it seemed like the fish weren’t real aggressive,” Brauer explained. “We were getting a lot of fish nipping at baits, so after a couple of hours, we pulled the plug and went out deep.”

Brauer and Moore fished contour breaks in 12-18 feet and caught their fish on 1/2-ounce Strike King Tour Grade football jigs with Strike King Menace trailers and Carolina-rigged Strike King Rage Lizards. Grass-topped breaks with 60-100 feet of water close by defined the ideal spots.

For third place, Brauer and Moore won $3,487, which included $1,012 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Andreas-Hauck fourth, Dixon-Winter fifth

T.R. Andreas and Chuck Hauck weighed five bass worth 16.20 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $2,570. Behind them was Randy Dixon and Todd Winter with 16.01 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $2,065.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams at the 2017 Texas Team Trail event on       LAKE NAME:

6th: Charles Whited-Brendan Kennell – 15.99

7th: Will Imhoff—Shane London – 15.60

8th: Chris Sabina-Bob Sabina – 15.25

9th: Rick Scheen-Mike Harmon – 15-23

10th: Jim Criswall-John N. Criswall – 15.12

AMISTAD LOW, BUT PRIMED FOR SPAWN

By David A. Brown

Call it high hopes in low water. Lake Amistad’s down about 45 feet, but Midland, Texas pro Tim Flowers suspects this Rio Grande reservoir could be ready for a full-throttle spring throw-down just in time for the Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s.

Flowers spends about 150 days a year in Del Rio, so he stays in tune with Amistad’s status. Speaking about two weeks prior to the March 27 tournament, he explained that the low water will have a couple of inescapable impacts; but thankfully, this storied lake holds enough potential to overcome the impediments.

For one thing, extreme low water shrinks the playing field, so Flowers expects Amistad to fish smaller than at full pool. That being said, this sprawling reservoir with its multiple arms and numerous pockets will still offer lots of room for anglers to spread out.

“I think the whole lake will be in play,” Flowers said. “There’s not as much healthy grass as there has been in previous years because the cold weather we had in February knocked it back.

“But the fishing has been good all over the lake from the San Pedro arm, to the Devil’s River and the Rio Grande. All of it has been pretty good.”

Another consideration — water clarity. Low water leaves a lot more of the dry, dusty stuff exposed to the elements and that can lead to high levels of turbidity.

“March has been awfully windy, which dirties up the water,” Flowers said. “All the caliche (light-colored sedimentary rock comprising gravel and sand bound by calcium carbonate) and the white rock is exposed right now so when we get those big winds, some of the pockets get blown out, depending on wind direction.

“But if we can get a couple days without wind, it will be the typical Amistad — pretty clear down near the dam. Of course, as you get up the river, it gets a little more off-colored.”

Flowers said the International Boundary and Water Commission hasn’t pulled significant levels of water since mid-February, when the historic winter storm necessitated increased power generation. Recent weeks have seen little fluctuation and Flowers considers this a good thing.

“Normally, this time of year, they start pulling water to send down for (agricultural needs), but right now is holding steady,” he said. “We’re hoping it stays up for the hydrilla and the spawn.”

ALMOST GO TIME

Looking at seasonal developments, Flowers said he anticipates a mix of prespawn, spawn and spawning activity. It’s difficult to predict precisely where the process will be during the tournament, but Amistad’s bass population should support a mixed-bag expectation.

“It’s about time for the spawn,” he said. “There’s a wave of fish wanting to come up and by the tournament, we could have fish in all three stages.

“The water should be warming in the days leading up to the tournament. Some of the water has gotten up to 65 degrees in some of the backs pockets and it’s about 60 on the main lake. I expect it to continue warming and the fish are going to want to come up and spawn.”

Flowers said prespawners will be utilizing hydrilla, points and drains for their staging. It’s the usual deal, with hefty females parking on strategic feeding spots just outside their intended bedding areas. After they finish their business, postspawners will utilize these same areas.

The spawners typically look for hard gravel banks and grass edges — inside or outside. One thing anglers must consider is that, due to its clarity, Amistad bass often spawn much deeper than other Texas lakes.

“They could spawn from a foot to 22 feet,” Flowers said. “That’s a big range, but I’ve caught them out in 22 feet. It probably averages 3-15 feet, depending where you are.

“Up in the river area, they usually spawn out to 10 feet, but on the main lake, it can be out to 20.”

In typical years, spring at Amistad sees a lot of bladed jigs, lipless crankbaits, Texas-rigged worms and Carolina rigs. Football jigs, flipping jigs, shaky heads and swimbaits will also find their place in the rotations.

THE PROJECTION

Created in 1969 by the construction its namesake dam, Lake Amistad is managed jointly by the governments of the United States and Mexico through the IBWC. Its Spanish name means “friendship” and, hopefully, Amistad will be in a friendly mood on tournament day. If so Flowers believes the winners will need a strong sack.

“I think it will take about 25 to win it and I think it will drop off fast after that.  There will be a handful of 20 pound bags, but the big fish in that 5- to 8-pound range are harder to come by.  Somebody will catch 2 of them 5-8 pounds and .”

As Flowers points out, Amistad definitely has the potential to deliver a winning sack on one general area. In all likelihood, it’ll take multiple options to earn the W; and that could mean fishing multiple regions.

“You could pull up on a little wolf pack or a school of prespawners, but right now, there hasn’t been a lot of schools of fish,” Flowers said. “By the tournament, there could be some better schools set up where a guy could maybe win it off of one spot.

“The way it’s been fishing lately, it’s kind of a one- or two-fish deal here and there. I think the winners will have to move around to win. It could be won anywhere.”

Teams will take off at safe light from the Diablo East ramp off Highway 90, Del Rio, Texas. The weigh-in will also take place at Diablo East, beginning at 3 p.m.

The Texas Team Trail consists of four regular-season events and a year-end championship. Each regular season event is a one-day team tournament and delivers 100 percent payback, including a fully-rigged 18-foot, 150-horsepower bass boat guaranteed as the first-place prize.

Registration is ongoing for the back-to-back Sam Rayburn events (May 7-8) and can be completed online by visiting www.texasteamtrail.com/tournaments/register/. For more information on rules and tournament payouts, visit www.texasteamtrail.com.