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.

AFTCO TIPS ON BUYING WATERPROOF GEAR

Some of the best fishing days can go down in the rain, which can be very uncomfortable. You have a “waterproof” jacket to help with that. So why are you still wet after fishing in the rain? All clothing has different grades of water resistance. Here is a quick explanation of some common terms and waterproof ratings for AFTCO outerwear.

What Makes Clothing Waterproof?

No fabric used to make comfortable fishing clothing is fully waterproof. Waterproof is a term used in outdoor clothing to describe the next level passed water resistance. Resistance means light rain and splash proof, whereas “waterproof” means it can withstand heavy rain and keep you comfortable. BUT these are not submersible.

Unfortunately, there is no breathable/comfortable fabric that is completely waterproof in the fishing clothing industry YET. If a rain suit says that it is breathable at any rating, then it cannot be 100% waterproof. There is always a chance that the clothing you wear to fish in the rain can “spring a leak” and start letting water in, but being familiar with the types of fabric and terms for waterproof ratings can help when purchasing your next set of rain gear to ensure you get the best set possible.

You may ask yourself “why do I want my suit to be breathable if it makes it not 100% waterproof?”. Well think about those rubber slickers you see on Deadliest Catch. These are 100% waterproof, but they are 0% breathable. So, when it is warm out and you start to sweat, there is nowhere for moisture to go if the suit is not breathable as well. The 100% waterproof ability of these slickers, although extremely useful for their purposes, is also their downfall as fishing rain suits. They don’t end up keeping you dry because your sweat will soak you before the rain does. That is why fishing rain jackets are designed the way they are. How, you may ask?

Many rain jackets and bibs are made of nylon shells, treated with a waterproof coating called Durable Water Repellent or DWR. This helps water bead and then roll off the fabric. That is the first line of defense.

Inside that outer shell, there is at least one other layer. This layer is a waterproof breathable membrane. Lets break down this membrane. The outer side of this membrane is hydrophobic. That means it repels water if any gets in. The inner side is hydrophilic which means it attracts water. What you get is a piece of clothing that repels water droplets from the outside, but allows for air and water vapor from sweat to escape from the inside. Amazing, right?! Most waterproof clothing has at least these two layers and some premium jackets will have 3 layers. The third layer is a protective inner layer to the membrane. Added protection means longevity and durability of the jacket.

All of this does not mean that clothing companies are wrong about calling their clothing waterproof just because they cannot be submerged in water and stay dry. Please do not go into a typhoon hoping to stay dry in your rain jackets. Also, there are different levels of these waterproof jackets. This is usually reflected by the price of the suit. Lets dive into these levels and ratings of waterproof rain suits.

Waterproof Ratings / Breathability Ratings and How We Rate AFTCO Outerwear

Waterproof fishing clothing  Waterproof fishing clothing measures waterproof and breathability in millimeters as a K rating. These ratings refer to how much water pressure the fabric can withstand before water penetrates. For example, a 20K rating means that the fabric, when placed over a 1-inch diameter tube filled with water, can withstand 20,000 mm of pressure before letting the water in.

Breathability is also measured in K ratings. However, this measurement refers to the amount of water that escapes the clothing over a 24-hour period. Therefore, a 10K breathability rating means that 10,000 grams of water vapor will escape in 24 hours.

Why is my jacket not waterproof when its says it is?

Now that you can see where we get these waterproof ratings from, you can also see that rain suits have levels of waterproofing as well. A simple standard is the higher the waterproof rating, the more waterproof it is. So, wearing a 30K jacket in light rain is a little overkill, although not as much of an issue as wearing a 5K rain jacket in a torrential downpour. Wearing a jacket that is not quite rated to handle the weather you are in would be a reason your jacket does not seem as waterproof as you would like it.

Another reason a jacket may not be keeping water out is because the DWR coating has worn off allowing too much water passed the outer shell. A tell tale sign this is what happened is if water is no longer beading on your jacket and it is soaking in immediately. This will then require you to retreat the outerwear with DWR coating which can be found here with our Nikwax Outerwear Care.

Once your jacket has been retreated, it should be beading water droplets again. If you are still getting wet, consider making sure the jacket has a waterproof rating that matches the weather you are dealing with on the water.

AFTCO rain suits start at 10K and go to 30K waterproof rating. At 30K you can ensure that rain or snow, you will stay dry out on the water. In winter, make sure to look at the AFTCO insulated jackets like the Hydronaut, and in the summer reach for the other options. If you are interested in one rain suit, look at the shell style suits, and make sure to layer in cold weather. Learn more about layering in our 8 gear tips for cold weather fishing blog.

RAYBURN PRESENTS A DIFFERENT SCENARIO FOR TXTT OPENER

By David A. Brown

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL (February 12, 2021) – Danny Iles will carry plenty of optimism into Lake Sam Rayburn at the Feb. 20 season opener for the Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. He will, however, balance that disposition with a healthy dose of realism. 

Specifically, Isles knows he and his partner Brian Shook will be facing a very different scenario than the one the produced their incredible winning limit of 49.31 pounds. That’s fishing, of course; and these past champions have a game plan for what they’ll face. 

“It’s a lot different than last year,” Iles said of Rayburn’s current complexion. “It’s quite a bit warmer (water temperature 55) than this time last year and most of the lake is pretty stained. The lake came up 2 feet or so in January and that brought in a lot of off colored water. 

Shook agrees: “The lake has had a lot of changes with the water coming up and turning color. The mid lake is probably some of the cleanest, but the offshore bite is struggling because of the rising water. When that water comes up, 9 times out of 10, it kills that offshore bite.” 

This, along with a warmer winter, has kept the shallower areas more relevant. The long-range forecast shows an early-February cooling trend, but anglers will have to watch the overall weather picture to determine if Rayburn will experience any significant impacts. 

“Last year, the lake had been cold for a while and then we had a cold front right before the tournament,” Iles said. “That pushed those big fish out to deeper water. This winter, the water never got cold enough to push them out there and we’ve not had a sustained period of cold weather.” 

Iles also pointed out that Rayburn’s grass is in much better condition than last year. This major habitat feature tends to hold more fish shallow, so anglers will certainly factor this into their strategies.

LIKELY PATTERNS 

Last February, Iles and Shook fished deep drop-offs in the 147 Bridge area. Sitting in 28 feet of water, they cast shallow and worked crankbaits out to the 25 foot drop-offs where big fish were holding around brush and old timber. Their first of three stops produced a pair of giants — 11.47 and 10 pounds. 

That’s going to be a tough act to repeat in 2021, but Iles said anglers won’t have any trouble finding suitable fishing grounds. Barring any significant changes, he expects the event will see good bags caught from one end of the lake to the other. 

“I don’t think the offshore bite will be as big a player in this event as it was for us last year,” Shook said. “If it remains warm, would suspect a lot of the inside grass edges are going to get hit pretty hard, but it we get some strong fronts, they may push back outside to the outer edge. 

Shook said the tournament will see a lot of lipless crankbaits, swim jigs and chatterbaits; while others throw Senkos and wacky rigs. Those plastics, he said, could produce competitive sacks if stable weather positions the prespawners well. 

Iles said he’s not entirely counting out the offshore game, but he’s confident the better opportunities will come from shallower spots. Mobility, he said, will be necessary, but too much moving around could end up wrecking the day. “I think it will be the normal (routine) of stand on the trolling motor and chunking and winding something,” Iles said.

“I think you have two options: Pick a spot and do your best to stay on the trolling motor and work it thoroughly, or run around and try to hit a bunch of different areas. 

“I’m sort of inclined to stick on one point and fish it all day long. You’re not doing anything special than the boat in front of you that recently fished a spot, so it makes no sense to throw the same red Rat-L-Trap that everyone before you threw.” 

EXPECTATIONS 

The quality fish that allowed Iles and Shook to claim their 2020 win by an astounding margin of nearly 18 1/2 pounds still swim Rayburn’s waters. In fact, with February typically finding fat prespawners right on the verge of their shoreward push, Iles is expecting plenty of big bags. That being said, he’s adjusting expectations to current conditions. 

“We just got lucky last year; but I would think a more traditional bag of 25-28 would win this time, Iles said. “I think the fish are going to be scattered and with so many people fishing shallow, it’s going to be hard to find a group of fish that you’ll have to yourself.” 

Shook said he’s looking for something over 10 to take the event’s Big Bass award: “It’s just that time of year and Rayburns’s got‘em. I’d definitely look for one or two double-digit fish.” 

If tournament week does experience a significant cooling, the lake’s weather-sensitive Florida-strain bass won’t like that. However, Iles dispels a common misconception. 

“People often say that those fish shut down during a cold front, and that may be true to some degree; but I don’t think they stop biting entirely,” he said. “Somebody is going to catch them.” 

TOURNAMENT DETAILS
On-site registration is set for Friday, February 19, from 3-6 p.m. at Umphrey Pavilion (5438 Sam Rayburn Parkway, Brookeland, TX 75931). At least one team member must attend, as boat numbers will be assigned during this time. Anglers will be required to wear face coverings at registration.

Teams will take off at safe light from Umphrey Family Pavilion, at 5438 Sam Rayburn Parkway, Brookeland, Texas 75931, Brookeland, TX 75931. The weigh-in will also take place at the pavilion, beginning at 3 p.m. 

The Texas Team Trail consists of three 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 Lake Sam Rayburn event and can be taken over the phone at 210-281-1752 or online by visiting www.texasteamtrail.com/tournaments/register/. For more information on rules and tournament payouts, visit www.texasteamtrail.com.

MERCURY INTRO’S V12 600-HP VERADO OUTBOARD

FOND DU LAC, Wisc.– Mercury Marine, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), today introduced the new 7.6‑liter V12 600hp Verado® outboard engine. With this launch, Mercury continues to transform the high-horsepower outboard market, providing its most powerful and capable outboard, which includes several industry‑first features for a wide variety of applications.

“With boats continuing to grow bigger and performance expectations continuing to rise, boaters have been asking for a better, more capable high‑horsepower solution to meet their needs. The V12 Verado outboard is Mercury’s answer,” said Chris Drees, Mercury Marine president. “Using our advanced engineering and design capabilities, we completely redefined outboard performance. The V12 Verado outboard delivers boaters unrivaled freedom, luxury and power to pursue their passions on the water. This is a remarkable engine that will change the future of boating.”

Groundbreaking product innovations include the following:

  • The world’s first V12 outboard, the 600hp Verado engine features a naturally aspirated, large‑displacement, quad‑cam powerhead that generates impressive torque to get heavy boats out of the hole and on plane quickly, and to accelerate up to rated speed rapidly.
  • The industry’s first two‑speed automatic transmission for an outboard optimizes engine rpm according to workload, facilitating powerful acceleration and highly efficient performance at cruise.
  • The industry’s first steerable gearcase on an outboard pivots independently underwater while the engine’s powerhead remains in a space‑saving fixed position. This provides more room for multi‑engine configurations and a wider steering angle for agile handling. With help from contra‑rotating propellers, it also has better “bite” in the water for docking and other close‑quarters maneuvering.
  • Several enhanced Mercury technologies work in conjunction to enable the V12 Verado outboard to deliver exceptional fuel economy and range.

“The V12 Verado outboard delivers everything boaters want and more in a high-horsepower outboard. This engine makes boats easy to maneuver near the dock and provides superior handling at all speeds. It’s incredibly fuel efficient, so boaters can go farther and stay out longer. It’s so smooth and quiet that you can have a conversation while the engines are running. It’s durable, reliable and easy to maintain. There’s nothing else like the V12 Verado in the marketplace today,” Drees said.

The development of the V12 Verado outboard is a product of Mercury’s continued commitment to investing in R&D and manufacturing expansion, which includes more than $1.5 billion of investment since 2008.

“We’ve dedicated substantial investments and years of effort toward enhancing our ability to turn highly creative ideas into practical, functional and dependable solutions,” said Tim Reid, Mercury Marine vice president of development and engineering. “That work has positioned us well to anticipate and respond to shifts in the marketplace. We listened carefully to boaters’ needs and wishes, and we created new product capabilities aimed at exceeding their highest expectations.”

The Mercury Marine V12 Verado outboard will be available this spring. For more information, visit mercurymarine.com.

About Mercury Marine

Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Mercury Marine is the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. A division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), Mercury provides engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications. The company empowers boaters with products that are easy to use, extremely reliable and backed by the most dedicated customer support in the world. Mercury’s industry‑leading brand portfolio includes Mercury outboard engines, Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages, Mercury propellers, Mercury inflatable boats, Mercury SmartCraft electronics, Land ‘N’ Sea marine parts distribution and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils. More information is available at www.MercuryMarine.com.

About Brunswick

Headquartered in Mettawa, Ill., Brunswick Corporation’s leading consumer brands include Mercury Marine outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; Mercury global parts and accessories including propellers and SmartCraft electronics; Power Products Integrated Solutions; MotorGuide trolling motors; Attwood, Mastervolt, and Whale marine parts; Land ’N’ Sea, BLA, Payne’s Marine, Kellogg Marine, and Lankhorst Taselaar marine parts distribution; Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils; Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Crestliner, Cypress Cay, Harris, Heyday, Lowe, Lund, Princecraft, Quicksilver, Rayglass, Sea Ray, Thunder Jet and Uttern boats; Boating Services Network, Freedom Boat Club, Boat Class and NAUTIC-ON. For more information, visit brunswick.com.

DETAILS ON U.S. OPEN NATIONAL BASS FISHING CHAMPIONSHIP

On February 1, Bass Pro Shops announced a new era in fishing with the introduction of the Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships. Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris had a dream to create “the ultimate owner’s appreciation event” while benefitting conservation. The first-of-its-kind tournament invites owners of Tracker, Ranger, Nitro, Triton, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, and MAKO brand boats to compete in two-person teams. With proceeds benefitting conservation and the future of fishing, the event is being created exclusively for amateurs, including serious weekend tournament anglers, parents, grandparents, and youngsters giving everyday anglers, friends, and families the chance to win big!

The tournaments will benefit local fish habitat with proceeds supporting the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP). One-third of all entry fees will be matched equally with donations from both Bass Pro Shops and Tournament sponsor Toyota.  This amount will be equal to 100 percent of all entry fees – to benefit conservation through our partnerships under NFHP.

The Open Championship events will accommodate a total of up to 4,700 anglers, and each regional qualifying event will be open to up to 250 two-person teams. Regional qualifiers will take place at some of the best bass fishing locations in the country while offering up plenty of fun. Event dates and locations are as follows:

  •  Lake Okeechobee, FL – March 13, 2021
    • Lake Ray Roberts (Dallas), TX – April 17, 2021
    • Lake Mead, NV – April 24, 2021
    • Chesapeake Bay, MD – July 17, 2021
    • Lake St. Clair (Detroit), MI – August 21, 2021
    • Old Hickory Lake (Nashville), TN – September 11, 2021
    • Grand Lake ‘O the Cherokees (Tulsa), OK – October 16, 2021
    • Last Chance Qualifier: Bull Shoals Lake, AR – November 17, 2021
    • Grand Championship finale for those who qualify: Table Rock Lake, MO – November 19, 2021

“We are grateful to be a conservation partner of Bass Pro Shops and are excited for the announcement of the US Open National Bass Fishing Tournament,” said Ed Schriever, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “This is a beautiful example of how partnerships with the angling community support conservation. Great fishing requires great habitat. Aquatic habitat is the field of dreams for anglers; if you build it – the fish will come. This is how anglers pay it forward and help ensure the ability for future generations to share in the passion of fishing and conservation.”

History with NFHP and Bass Pro Shops:

NFHP is a significant conservation effort that can trace its roots back to Table Rock Lake. In 2007, Bass Pro Shops and other organizations established a science-based approach to improving reservoir fish habitat.  This resulted in the formation of the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership being developed in an attempt to enhance reservoir fisheries habitat.

Piloted on Table Rock Lake, the resulting effort established a national model for freshwater reservoir habitat efforts that continues to positively impact fish populations.

The US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships‘ finals will be broadcast live on NBC on November 19, 2021.

About the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
Since 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has supported over 1,000 projects benefiting fish habitat in all 50 states. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects of 20 regionally-based Fish Habitat Partnerships. In 2020, the National Fish Habitat Partnership was recognized by Congress as part of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act.  For more information, visit http://fishhabitat.org/.

Ryan Roberts
National Fish Habitat Partnership Program Manager

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
1100 First Street, NE (Suite 825)
Washington, DC 20002

PH: 202-838-3466
Fax: 202-350-9869
www.fishhabitat.org

DUCKETT FISHING CONTINUES SPONSORSHIP OF TEXAS TEAM TRAIL

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The Texas Team Trail (TXTT) presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s announces Duckett Fishing continues its partnership with the TXTT for the upcoming 2021 season. The TXTT kicks off February 20 on Sam Rayburn.

“The team at Duckett Fishing knows bass fishing just about better than anyone in the country,” said TXTT Tournament Director Mike Hastings. “They are committed to ensuring the future of competitive bass fishing and make products that simply help everyday anglers catch fish. We welcome their support in the coming season.”

Angler-owned and anger-driven, Duckett Fishing develops products by and for pros. Founded in 2009 by legendary bass angler Boyd Duckett, the company features a pro staff filled with some of the most legendary names in fishing. Using this treasure trove of fishing knowledge and experience, Duckett Fishing produces gear that performs at the highest level and helps anglers win tournaments.

As part of the sponsorship, anglers who place in the top 10 by fishing with a Duckett Fishing rod or reel in each regular-season event and the championship will receive $500 in merchandise of the angler’s choice from Duckett Fishing. Qualifying anglers who fished with a paired Duckett Fishing rod and reel will receive an addition $250 in merchandise. To be eligible, the Duckett Fishing rods or reels must have been purchased from a participating TXTT independent retailer and proof of purchase in 2021 is required.

The Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s consists of three regular-season events and a year-end championship. The championship is a two-day tournament open to teams who have fished all four regular-season events.

2021 TXTT scheduled events:

February 20 – Sam Rayburn

March 27 – Amistad Reservoir

May 8 – Sam Rayburn

Championship

June 5-6 – Lake Whitney

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, Lucas Oil, Duckett Fishing, AFTCO, Sunline, Mercury, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, NITRO, Garmin, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Protect the Harvest, and Valley Fashions.