As of April 6, Toledo Bend has delivered at least 72 lunker largemouths, 10-pounds-or-better, to anglers entering these fish in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program.
And it is a certainty many more lunker bass of that size or better are on the way, as 40 days remain for the 2014-15 Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program season ending mid-May.
And last year’s record has definitely been broken – already by more than 10 bass over 10.
According to Toledo Bend Lake Association president John Toliver, there were a record number of 61 Toledo Bend lunker bass replicas awarded to anglers during the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash at Cypress Bend Park in May 2014. These replicas represented bass 10 pounds or better that were taken, weighed, tagged and released alive in Toledo Bend waters from May 19, 2013, to May 15, 2014.
Sean Kinney, biologist manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, has every reason to believe there are more lunker bass to come this spring.
“The bass population is very healthy at Toledo Bend, and it’s looking like another good year (2015) for lunker bass,” Kinney said.
When asked if the new Toledo Bend lake record or even new No. 1 Louisiana largemouth is possible, Kinney was not hesitant in his answer.
“Yes, they are here in this lake and just haven’t been caught yet,” he said.
And according to Kinney, the Florida genetics of bass sampled in Toledo Bend continues to remain at 36 percent accounting for many heftier bass available to anglers.
In November 2014, George Herr of Many made national news with an extraordinary solo stringer of five bass weighing 40.45 pounds that was anchored with a huge 10.97-pounder. Herr’s stringer was taken during a Many Bass Club tournament, and witnesses observed the fish and weight recordings at Toledo Town and Tackle and the tournament weigh-in.
Just nine days before on Halloween, Herr and a fishing partner scored on another impressive stringer of 34.4 pounds which included another lunker weighing 10.92 pounds.
Both of Herr’s fish were entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, and the angler will receive two replicas of these bass in a ceremony in May 2015.
Fishing Toledo Bend lunkers – George Herr’s Tactics
During the pre-spawn, 59-year-old Herr will visit deep-water points and ridges to find staging sows much like all other Toledo Bend anglers who understand well this annual pattern of finding bass in this huge reservoir.
As bass begin moving in pre-spawn and into the spawning period, Herr advises anglers to seek areas abundant with grass, spawning flats and fat Toledo Bend bass.
From March and through May, anglers will begin sight-fishing for bedding bass in such environments.
“You want to fish with stealth and get real quiet when you get up near the beds,” he said. “The big females will leave initially, but they’ll be back.
“All of Housen, Six Mile and Sandy Creek provide good bedding areas. The waters here can get crystal clear, and these areas hold a lot of grass. And there can be lots of boat traffic down there because of that.
“Indian Creek and Buck Creek are other great places,” he said.
When bass are on the beds, Herr said major areas to focus include the following locations: Hurricane Creek off Housen; shallow waters with haygrass and stumps; and the first two pockets on the right entering Six Mile.
“There’s a lot of haygrass on the edges and the water is a little deeper in those pockets,” he said.
Equipment, tackle and lures
Herr credits much of his on-water success to the design, quality and performance of his Phoenix boat (www.phoenixbassboats.com).
“This lake is immense and can get quite rough,” he said.
“Last year, a buddy and I had to motor over to Britton Creek on the north end to get to shallow, spawning bass,” he said. “The winds were southeast at 25 mph, and we had to cross the main lake.
“We went in my Phoenix which rode the rough waters well and allowed us to fish shallow to catch 19 pounds and win that tournament.”
“The Phoenix hull is a shallow draft design and rides very smooth,” he said. “It has a V that flattens out toward the rear of the boat.
“It allows you to get in shallow areas that hold fish, and that has made the difference here in winning some tournaments.”
Herr works well with Brent Abernathy at Shipp’s Marine (www.shippsmarine.com) in Gladewater, Texas.
“The times I have needed help, Brent has even offered to pick up my boat,” Herr said. “They help me with the adjustments I need to fish competitively.
“I am an electronics technician, and they have provided valuable assistance when I needed it.”
Anchoring competitively is also critical in Herr’s opinion – especially when sight-fishing bedding bass.
“Power Poles are very important to anchor quietly, firmly and stay near the beds,” Herr said. “If the lake has a slight chop, you could also use Power Poles to position the boat as to provide a sweet, protected spot that gives you more visibility.
“That’s how James Niggemeyer won a Bassmaster tournament here.”
Herr’s lipless crankbaits of choice to chunk and wind are ¾-ounce Xcaliber One Knockers in red crawfish colors.
He will also fish his own homemade, football jigs and cast these on deeper grass ledges near spawning areas with Strike King Blade Minnow trailers or Tightlines UV Hog trailers.
“And you want to throw the color white for bedding bass,” he said. “White plastics are visible to the angler so he can see pickups. White Larew Craws do well, and the old Hale Crawfish if you can find them. Berkley Fighting Bugs that are Texas-rigged do fine also.”
Herr casts his lures on rods from Fenwick, Dobyns and G Loomis, and he uses reels by Abu Garcia, Shimano and Lew’s.
“I pitch and flip my homemade jigs and trailers on Dobyn rods with reels spooled with Berkley Professional Grade 15-pound fluorocarbon,” the angler said.
Herr will cast his lipless Xcalibur One Knockers on a medium/heavy Fenwick rod with either 15- or 25-pound Izorline mono.
Important Toledo Bend links
To keep track with Toledo Bend lunkers, you can follow the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program weekly listing on their Facebook page.
For stories on Toledo Bend lunker bass 10-pounds-and-over, visit www.louisianasportsman.com.