Brookeland, Texas (June 8, 2020) — You gotta catch five, but winning sure comes quicker when one of them is the tournament’s biggest bass. Such was the case for Kris Wilson and Harold Moore who caught a limit that weighed 26.04 pounds to win the June 5 Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, at Lake Sam Rayburn.
This event was the first of two back-to-back tournaments held on this Angelina River reservoir. This double-header replaced the Toledo Bend and Lake Amistad qualifying events that were postponed earlier in the season due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Outpacing the field by more than 4 pounds, Willson and Moore relied on a strategy of mobility. As Wilson explained, they committed to playing the numbers game.
“We ran around so much, we fished from above the 147 Bridge all the way to the south end and everywhere in between,” he said. “We probably fished 25 or so spots. That was pretty much our game plan; we’d pull up and try to catch the active fish on the spot and then we’d move on.
“It was a timing deal on most of these spots. The way I look at it, the more spots you hit, the more potential you have to hit one at the right time. We would run six or eight spots and not even get a bite, then we’d pull up on one and catch four or five fish.”
Noting that they bagged their big fish — a 9.16 — around 10:30, Wilson said he and Moore were targeting deep drops; some in 12-14 feet, most in 28-30. The deeper spots proved most productive and yielded the majority of their 20-plus keepers.
“We spent a lot of time on the lake, several days before cutoff,” Wilson said. “I graphed 13 hours a day for three days I didn’t event pick up a rod. Some spots had stumps, some had brush and then some had nothing; just slick points.
“There was a period of time when it got really slick calm and it seemed like we could get bites on some places with brush; but when we had a little bit of breeze, the slick spots, or the ones with just a little bit of rubble were better. In practice, the bigger fish were coming off the more obscure stuff — the spots where other people might overlook.”
Wilson pointed to June’s lunar cycle as a significant factor in the event’s productivity: “I think the full moon had a big impact this weekend. The bite was good until around 10:30 and then we had a pretty good lull.
“We ran eight or 10 spots and only caught a couple small fish, but later in the afternoon, they started biting again. In the last 45 minutes we hit five spots and caught several fish on each one.”
Wilson and Moore caught most of their winning fish on a 3/4-ounce 6th Sense Hybrid Jig with a green pumpkin Berkley chunk. They also caught fish on a big spoon, a 6th Sense C-20 crankbait in chartreuse and blue, a hollow body swimbait and a Carolina rig with a straight tail worm.
“In most places, depending on the wind, we would position shallow, throw deep and drag uphill,” Wilson said. “The fishing pressure is so high and the fish aren’t used to seeing baits coming uphill.”
With the Texas Team Trail being required to put on a trailered take off and drive thru weigh-in, the event had a different look and feel from what anglers have come to expect. Wilson, however, said that he and Moore found this structure favorable.
“They gave you two hours to get it, so you could be anywhere on the lake,” Wilson said of the check in format. “I personally liked it. It seemed like it went smoothly and the weigh in went quicker than normal.
“Also, you got to keep your fish in the live well, so they stayed cool, rather than holding them in a tank. I think that was definitely better for the fish.”
For their efforts Wilson and Moore earned a fully rigged Nitro Z18 with a 150 Mercury. In addition, they claimed $2,370 of Anglers Advantage cash and a $1,130 Big Bass award. Their total payday was $35,495.
The second-place team of Randy Turner and Justin Morton might describe their day as “made in the shade.” Comfort aside, the anglers weren’t cooling their heals; rather, they put in the work necessary to sack up a limit that went 21.90.
“Started mid lake and it just didn’t work out; we didn’t have a keeper at 8:30, so we decided to make a run up north and flip the cypress trees,” Turner said. “We fished the edges of the Attoyac River and we had a couple of spots where the fish kept reloading.
“We keyed on some shady areas up in the day. Plus, the bream were spawning, so I think the fish were using the shade for cover, but they were able to feed under there.”
Turner said he and his partner caught their three biggest fish — a 7-pounder, a 5 1/2 and a 5 — off one particular tree. They’d fish the tree, catch one, move on and fish elsewhere, then return to that magic spot and pop another good one.
Working in about 3 feet of water, Turner and Morton caught all of their weight on Texas-rigged Zoom Old Monster worms in the redbug color. They used 1/2-ounce tungsten weights and No. 5 wide gap hooks.
“You had to get your boat in a certain angle because some of the limbs were blocking your cast,” Turner said. “You had to get your bait right up against the tree.”
For second place, Turner and Morton earned $7,613, which included $1,738 in Anglers Advantage cash and a $250 Ranger Boats bonus.
Clayton Boulware and Albert Collins, who won the 2018 TXTT Championship on Lake Sam Rayburn, again applied their dual lifetimes of local knowledge to a run-and-run strategy that yielded a third-place limit that weighed 21.59. Boulware said they launched with the intention of cranking the motor several times and that’s exactly how their day unfolded.
“The way we fish is we hit a bunch of spots; we probably hit 15-25 spots,” he said. “We had a little milk run and you just hope that within those 15-25 spots, you’ll catch five good ones. We only had one spot where we caught more than one fish that helped us.
Fishing between the 147 Bridge and the 103 Bridge, Boulware and Collins worked both river arms and targeted a variety of offshore structure in 12-14 feet. They fished small areas of hard bottom, isolated stumps and breaks.
“We fished all natural stuff, not brush,” Boulware explained. “The fish tend to use the natural stuff year in and year out; but with the manmade stuff, if you don’t refresh it every year, they won’t come back.”
Boulware and Collins caught most of their fish on a Texas-rigged Mister Twister Hang 10 in the Red River Special color and a Big Bite B2 worm in blue fleck. They also caught fish on a 3/4-ounce Santone Football jig in the Red Beans and Carrots color with a green pumpkin Big Bite Baits College Craw Worm.
“The key was just slow presentations,” Boulware said. “We had been catching them cranking but the water has warmed up in the last week. Even with the football jig, we would take 45 seconds to a minute to get the bait through the productive spot.”
For third place, Boulware and Collins earned $5,455, which included $1,580 in Anglers Advantage cash, a $250 Nitro Boats bonus and a $250 Mercury bonus.
Phillips-Sparks fourth, Shook-Iles fifth
Clay Phillips and Russell Sparks weighed five bass worth 20.29 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $3,593. Behind them was Brian Shook and Danny Iles with 19.97 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $3,372.
Garmin Tournament Rewards
Adam Dunn & Shelby Shaw added a $500 cash prize to their check by being the highest placing Garmin user at the Sam Rayburn event. They earned $2,336 total during this event.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 teams at the 2020 Texas Team Trail event on Sam Rayburn:
6th: Derek Taylor and Rusty Neugebauer — 19.58
7th: James Nitschke and Jason Bonds — 19.56
8th: John Cox and Dewayne Reese — 18.78
9th: Curtis Jordan and Chris Bush — 18.32
10th: Cory Rambo and Rusty Clark — 17.70