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FLW Tour Recap: Sam Rayburn Reservoir
(Editor’s note: Veteran bass pro Dave Lefebre has agreed to take time to share his insights into each FLW Tour event of the 2012 season. After every event, Lefebre will give his thoughts on tournament strategy, winning techniques and other behind-the-scenes stories/information that is compelling to our readers. The following blog represents his ninth installment of the season. Lefebre ultimately finished the Sam Rayburn event in 14th place with a three-day total of 35 pounds, 10 ounces and took home over $8,700 in winnings).
It has been an exciting season on the 2012 Walmart FLW Tour and finally getting to visit the famous Sam Rayburn was a perfect ending. Strangely, I’d never seen Rayburn in my 12 years as a professional. Standing next to the water before practice began was humbling to me. This is where our sport began and so many historic tournaments have been held there that I was in awe just being there. Thankfully, I think for me, the fishing was “off” according to Rayburn standards and I was able to nickel and dime a nearly 12-pound average all the way to 14th place. I ended the year ranked third overall (tied for 2nd in points) in the AOY standings and qualified to fish next year’s Forrest Wood Cup on the Red River. This was an important goal of mine, as always, so the stress level was quite high all week. I’m relieved that it is all over and I’m now looking forward to some rest … and then 2013!
As far as the tournament was concerned, I noticed that fish were scattered on Big Sam and, as a result, several techniques were utilized successfully. I fished both deep (25-30 feet) and shallow (2-4 feet) throughout the event, but my bigger fish were caught way out offshore with a jig. The shad were everywhere out in that 25-foot range and when they were set up close to the brush piles and standing timber, I was able to get bit. Unfortunately, as the tournament progressed, the deeper shad thinned out a lot and finding the right brush at the right time was more challenging than I thought it would be. I was literally idling over each pile I found in practice and if there was no bait I’d move to the next one. If there was some bait, I would jump up on the front deck and cast right over the motor. If I didn’t get bit on the first cast I would again move on to the next one. The first day they bit great out deep early, but the next two days I had to go shallow to get a quick limit before spending the rest of the day off the bank with the jig.
My jig was a 9/16-ounce Tabu Open Water Series in green pumpkin/orange with a Yamamoto 5-inch pro double-tail grub in green pumpkin. I used a long rod (Dobyn’s 784) as I always do for fishing deep. My shallow fish were caught on a Rapala Clackin’ Crank 55 and a generic paddle-tail worm. This is the third FLW Tour Open in a row that the Clackin’ Crank played a major role and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite little square-bills. Parrot and Helsinki Shad both worked for me, with the Parrot being the deal in the morning and the Helsinki, which looks like sexy shad, working better when the sun came out. I threw these on a Dobyn’s 705 CB glass rod, which is the best 7-foot crankbait rod on the market … period.
This was the last of my five weeks on the road solo without my family and I couldn’t have spent it in a better place. Many of us stayed at Jackson Hill Marina, which was just across the lake from our official takeoff area. We were treated like royalty and fed every morning and evening. We hung out in the lodge every night until 9 p.m. or so and were even served the best peanut butter pie on the planet. It was an awesome week and I want to specially thank Terry, Connie, and Dana for their extreme hospitality.
Due to our unique accommodations, I had the opportunity to spend more time than usual with my fellow competitors during the week and it was kind of cool hearing the different ways everyone was having success. From what I was told, frogs in the lily pads played a big part for some guys. Other shallow-water guys were flipping the matted grass with 1- and 1½-ounce weights. I know that weightless Senkos, ChatterBaits, spinnerbaits, and swimming jigs also worked well on the outer edges of the grass. I told three guys about the paddle-tail I was using in the grass and each of them weighed key fish on it and all got big checks because of it – one even made the cut with it. Basically, everything that works in Florida was productive this week in Texas. The deep fish were caught on jigs, big worms and deep DT crankbaits. The best colors in lower light conditions were chartreuse with a blue back and then any shad color during the rest of the day. It seemed as though the best big-worm color was something like Plum or Junebug.
Most of the best bags were caught in the mid-section of the lake as expected. I didn’t hear of anyone smashing them way up in the rivers or creeks, or next to the dam. The area from Veach Basin to the Canyons was most productive. I stayed in the area from The Canyons to Harvey’s Creek and never even saw any more of the lake and didn’t have anyone in my way all week long. This lake is enormous, it’s loaded with big bass, it has great accommodations and I really hope we make it a regular Tour stop from now on. I know I’m looking forward to going back to Sam Rayburn again!
I’ve truly enjoyed doing the FLW Tour re-caps all season and now look forward to 2013. So until next February, good ice-fishing everybody!
To read more about Dave's life on the road, check out On Tour With Dave and Anne, sponsored by Chevy. Throughout the 2012 FLW Tour season, Dave and his wife, Anne will be keeping a detailed blog of their experiences while traveling the country in their Chevy Trucks.