PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 12, 2014

Spring 2014 could be huge year for local bass anglers Pt. 1

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Bass fishermen in Jefferson, Orange and surrounding counties are truly blessed people.

We have more access to more world-class, diverse bass fishing within a four hour drive than anyone in the state and perhaps any other angler group outside of Florida.

With Lake Fork four hours to the north, Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn 90 minutes away along with Lake Conroe and a host of other East Texas reservoirs in the two hour range we have incredible opportunities.

This week, I would like to go over what to expect this spring, which should inspire anyone with a love for bass to start organizing their tackle and prepare for an amazing year.

Sam Rayburn: Big Sam has been on fire over the last 18 months and things should be even stronger going into the 2014 fishing season. For two years in a row, it ended up at the top levels of the Bassmaster survey and the habitat is in great shape. I do not expect it to churn out the 13-pound plus Sharelunkers like it did in the late 1990s, but if you are looking to catch quality five pound plus bass, Rayburn is hard to beat. And this year could be the year we start seeing more of those double digit it. They are certainly there.

Toledo Bend: The Bassmaster Elite Series is returning to Toledo Bend this year. I have spoken with Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam, Brent Chapman and others who are excited to be back there and expect huge catches. These anglers consider it one of the top lakes in the country for quality bass and they fish everywhere.

What is even more interesting is the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program which is put on in Louisiana, gives replicas to anglers who catch bass 10 pounds or larger in the lake. Last year they gave out 58 replicas, a record number. Some 12 of those fish were in the 11 pound class and five were 12 pounds and better.

According to the Toledo Bend Lake Association, Scottie Lucas who produced each of the replicas said he had produced an additional one hundred plus replicas of 7.5-10 lb. fish from the lake during that time.

Expect a strong the year at Toledo Bend.

At the north tier of the region we are covering is legendary Lake Fork. Something interesting happened three years ago when drought struck the lake.

It went down to nine feet low, a level it never reached since being impounded in 1986. When lakes get low, vegetation grows in new locations and provides new habitat and nutrients for the fishery. Fork is not back to pool level but has risen from its record low and the fishery is rebounding.

In the last six weeks, it has produced three 13 pound plus Sharelunkers which is a little early. The bulk of those usually come from Fork in March and April.

Fork always produces quality fishing but it looks like this year the big ones are coming out to play.

Lake Conroe is another lake that was severely impacted by the drought but that is back into more of a normal operating range.

Conroe is in my opinion the most overlooked body of water by local anglers who perhaps do not realize it is in the top five of Sharelunker production and has a strong population of 3-5 pounders. Judging from reports over the last few months, expect Conroe to have a good year.

Only three hours away is Fayette County Reservoir, a 3,000 acre lake that in my opinion is the easiest spot in Texas to catch a five pound bass. The population there is strong and the size is a little bigger than average.

The lake has not received quite as much pressure as it did in the late 1990s when Texas sort of discovered this unique fishery which should give anglers an added edge.

Something to keep in mind is that it’s a power plant lake and the fish start spawning there earlier than you might expect. I guarantee there are bass on the beds somewhere there right now, barring a crazy cold snap coming in.

In the Sunday edition we will look at two other seldom spoken of East Texas lakes and take a look at the marshes and river systems of the area.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 and watch him 10 a.m. Saturdays on GETV.org)