(Feb 22, 2017 - NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fl.)
T.J. Goodwyn and Philip Crelia, both of Center, Texas, weighed 30.09 pounds to win the second regular-season event of the Texas Team Trail presented by Cabela's (TXTT) on Feb. 18 on Toledo Bend Reservoir. The winning anglers took home a brand new Triton boat and Mercury outboard, valued at $35,495.
With tournament season in full swing, Toledo Bend is seeing more and more fishing pressure, which led Goodwyn and Crelia to back away from the shallow waters and avoid the crowd to find prespawn bass in staging areas.
"We've really worked and worked at getting better out deep," said Crelia. "It's hard to find them offshore, but when you do you have a chance at winning. When you fish shallow, you're sort of rolling the dice on size. Offshore you can find the right size."
Crelia and Goodwyn also believed most of the 312 teams competing in the TXTT event were rushing the spawn.
The anglers targeted three main offshore spots on the northern end of the lake. With an early limit, the duo concentrated on a small, hard-bottom location that had previously held potential. Within three casts, the anglers boated three monsters to transform a good fishing day into a great one.
"I've known about it for a couple years, but I've never really caught them that well there," said Crelia. "We drove by it yesterday in practice, made one cast and caught an eight-pounder, but we thought that was more of a fluke than anything."
Crelia and Goodwyn used Carolina-rigged Strike King lizards (green pumpkin, watermelon) and 5/8-ounce Strike King Structure jigs with Rage Craw trailers (watermelon red). While both produced fish, the lizards worked best - accounting for four of the five weigh fish. These baits were presented in anywhere from eight to 20 feet of water on hard bottoms, channel swings and secondary points.
"We were solely targeting prespawn fish," Crelia said.
The anglers' fortunate stop vaulted them into first place with a total of 30.09 pounds to win a Triton 189TRX with 150 horsepower Mercury outboard. By participating in the Mercury contingency program, the anglers' motor was upgraded to 225 horsepower. With $3,105 in Anglers Advantage, the anglers won a total of $38,600 in cash and prizes.
Mike Gibbs, of Hemphill, Texas, and Dennis Rutherford, of Noble, Louisiana, weighed a total of 27.97 pounds to take the $7,800 second-place prize. The anglers added $2,277 in Anglers Advantage cash and also won $250 by participating in the Triton contingency program.
Gibbs and Rutherford started the day shallow before heading to deeper waters. The anglers targeted main points on the edge of creeks in 16 to 18 feet of water with a football jig.
"We hit seven different points - two were really key," said Gibbs. "One had a rocky, pebbly bottom and the other was sand and shells. They were stacked up in there, right on the drops."
Third-place finishers Clint Fountain and Robert Glende, both of Kirbyville, Texas, brought 25.67 pounds to the scales to win a total of $6,750. As the other top teams, the anglers found their fish by foregoing the shallows and heading to deeper locales.
"We caught them all on drains in 12 to 18 foot of water," said Fountain. "We had five or six different spots and we just moved around - back and forth."
Fountain explained that these drains were littered with natural lay-downs and stumps. The prespawn bass were pulled up right beside the stumps and in between the lay-downs ambushing baitfish. The two exclusively used a 3/4-ounce football jig with a Yamamoto twin-tail grub (green pumpkin).
While they were happy with third, they believe they received the bites to win.
"We didn't fish clean today," said Fountain. "We had a couple three-pounders in our bag that we easily could have culled with a five-pounder and a six-pounder that we lost at the boat. I believe if we'd have had those, we'd have won."
The remaining Top 10 are Mire/Matsubu (fourth); Mong/Mong (fifth): Beachy/Mann (sixth); Fitts/Dutton (seventh); Conn/Brock Jr. (eighth); Temple/Bradfield (ninth); and Johnston/Wilson (tenth).
The next tournament stop for the TXTT is set for April 1 at Belton Lake. The 2017 schedule includes some of Texas' most legendary bass fisheries and features huge payout..
Texas Team Trail events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Cabela's, Ranger Boats, Lucas Oil, RAM, Evinrude, Mercury, Minn Kota, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Evinrude, Arctic Ice, Stratos Boats, Lowrance, Protect the Harvest, General Tire, SuperClean, Garmin, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, Atlas, G-Juice, Powertex Group.