MANY, La. – Bass anglers often say "wind is your friend" in reference to the fish positioning influence of a good breeze. Well, Glen Freeman, of Converse, La. proved his skill at managing this often tempestuous relationship by adjusting to some meteorological moodiness and topping the EverStart Series Texas Division tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Day one saw calm conditions giving way to a blustery storm that moved across the lake around mid morning. This brought strong winds that pushed a lot of anglers off their spots. Day two brought high, bright skies and sustained winds that whipped the lake into a frothy frenzy with waves as high as six feet. The final round delivered an odd mixture of shifting winds that constantly threatened to disrupt efforts to hold on the offshore spots most boats were fishing.
Nevertheless, Freeman worked through the challenging conditions and turned in three days of consistent productivity with weights of 22-11, 21-8 and 24-12 yielding a tournament total of 68-15 and a massive winning margin of 9 ½ pounds. Freeman's final bag was the heaviest of day three and he was the tournament's only competitor to break 20 each day. The majority of his last day on Toledo Bend was unproductive, but fortunately the early hours gave him all he needed – including an 8-pound kicker that sealed the deal in convincing fashion.
"Today was a good day, but an unusual day compared to the last two days," Freeman said. "We've had wind from every different direction and we've had to adjust every day. Today kind of worried me, but it started out pretty good and I caught all my fish in the first hour and a half and then it was pretty well over."
Targeting ridges with timber in the mid-lake region, Freeman saw his depth range moving shallower each day. On day one, he caught his fish in 20-25 feet, moved in to 15-20 feet a day later and then found his day-three catch in 8-10 feet.
"The wind was different today, it could've blown the bait on top of the ridges," Freeman surmised. "But I was able to adjust and figure it out."
Essential to his success, was staying on the fish. This Freeman did with prudent boat positioning.
"It's a matter of going out there and being able to adjust to what's happening at the time," he said. "I never lost track of the fish; I had to position the boat differently and I was able to stay with the fish."
Arming himself with a 7-foot medium-heavy Shimano rod and a 7:1 Lew's reel carrying 17-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon, Freeman caught his fish on a Texas-rigged 10 ½-inch Yum MightEE worm in blue fleck and a Booyah football jig with a Zoom Speed Craw trailer. He accented his jig's green pumpkin skirt with strands of purple skirt material. This, he said, imitated the purple hues common to indigenous forage such as bream and perch.
Freeman also noted that a safe and efficient fishing platform was essential for handling the lake's rough water. "My Ranger boat and Yamaha outboard got me across the lake in (windy conditions) and back. If it weren't for them, I couldn't have gone where I went."
A veteran of the host lake, Freeman said he remains impressed with its bounty. "When God made a lake, he made Toledo Bend."
Reneau moves up to second
Day-one leader Tim Reneau got off to a strong start with the tournament's heaviest sack – 26-10 – but the big winds of day two proved disastrous for him and the pro from Del Rio, Texas slipped to fourth after catching only 13-15. He made up some ground today with a solid effort of 18-14 and ended in second place with 59-7.
"Even the first day, the wind really (hindered me); I caught all my fish before the storm hit," Reneau said. "I went back the next day and tried to fish the stuff that I thought I was saving and the grass wasn't there because the waves were so big. Today, when the sun came out, I saw that the wind had just laid the grass over, but it stood back up today."
Using his patented invention, the Lateral Perch (1 ¼-ounce size in the green tail perch color), Reneau flipped shallow grass and bagged a quick limit. He then moved deep and culled up three times – including a 5-pounder – while fishing a football jig with a Strike King Rage trailer in candy craw color.
Wind-weary Harvey falls to third
David Harvey, of Beaumont, Texas started the final round in first place after posting 25-10 and 20-1 the first two days, but found himself scrambling for consistency on day three. He'd ultimately piece together a limit of 12-9 and settle into third place with 58-4.
"The wind was a lot stronger out of the south than it had been," Harvey said. "I did catch some, but they were smaller and scattered. The bait was scattered and I think that, in turn, the fish were scattered. They didn't ball up on the structure the way they had been.
"I had a two-pronged approach for today; I had flipping fish that I didn't need to go to on day one, I chose not to go to them on day two because I knew I had made the cut, and I went to them today and as it turned out, some of the other competitors had found that area and I felt like I was fishing used water. We make decisions and sometimes, they don't all work out the way you need them to. I'm just grateful to be where I'm at."
Harvey caught his final-round fish on an Odom football jig with a Big Bite Baits Kriet Kreature and a Carolina rig with Big Bite worms.
Loyd ends up fourth
Lamonte Loyd, of Gilmer, Texas also started his tournament with a bang by tying for second with 25-12. He slipped a notch on day two with 18-1 and struggled even more so in the final round where he managed a small limit of 11-6 to finish fourth with 55-3.
Since the first day, most of Loyd's fish have been caught on a Strike King Series XD crankbait. Loyd custom paints his crankbaits and this week, his bream pattern worked so well, he'll have to refinish the bait after aggressive largemouth have stripped off sizeable chunks of pain.
Clearly, Loyd believes in his color patterns, but he also lauded the 6XD's performance in this week's weather. "That's the good thing about those baits – you can cast it a mile into the wind."
Pinkston cranks his way up to fifth
"I feel lucky to have what I have," Pinkston said. "With the wind, I had to run new water every day. I just went fishing today and it worked out."
Pinkston said his only regret about his decision to throw crankbait is the number he left in the lake. "There are four fish from today and two from yesterday that are swimming around with my crankbaits in their mouths. If (anyone) finds them, I want them back because I've run out of crankbaits."
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Toledo Bend event:
6th: James Elliott, of Center, Texas, 52-1
7th: Russell Cecil, of Willis, Texas, 51-5
8th: George Jeane Jr., of Evans, La., 49-7
9th: Kris Wilson, of Montgomery, Texas, 48-8
10th: Phil Marks, of Dallas, Texas, 40-11