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ON OUTDOORS: National fishing scene has SE Texas in sites

The greater Southeast Texas region will be the focus of the bass fishing world in 2017.

Beginning with the Bassmaster Classic March 24-26 at Lake Conroe the world’s top pros will compete for a $300,000 top prize and status as the world champion bass fisherman.

Then May 17-21 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will come to Sam Rayburn.

The event, which will replace and build upon Toyota Texas Bass Classic’s decade-long legacy, is set to kick things up a notch with a very special conservation-friendly event.

“Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will combine the best features of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and our own BASSfest tournament, both of which have become immensely popular among anglers and fishing fans,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Texas Fest will host a special Fan Appreciation Day offering anglers and their families opportunities to meet, greet and learn from the world’s best professional anglers.”

The Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will emphasize best practices in fishing conservation, including a catch, weigh and immediate release format. The event will also continue to benefit the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), which has been instrumental in introducing fishing conservation guidelines that have influenced fishing tournaments throughout the United States.

Finally June 15-17,the Bassmaster Central Open will come to the Sabine River with an event held out of Orange. Opens as the name suggest are “open” events where rank and file anglers can fish in an attempt to fish the Bassmaster Classic or get into the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Additionally many of the Eltie Series pros fish them for an extra shot at Classic
qualification.

This will be an historical year for the region and represents a bass fishing renaissance right here in Southeast Texas.

While next year will be huge, 2016 has been stellar.

Toledo Bend was voted as the top bass fishing destination in America by Bassmaster. It is the first time a lake has been voted first two years on a row and that is no small feat considering all of the other water bodies in contention.

Since the drought we experienced half a decade ago, Toledo Bend has come back more than strong. It is downright phenomenal and the number of big fish caught by anglers is stunning.

“I can’t say the fishing for numbers is better than the glory days of when the lake was first impounded but Toledo Bend is absolute excellent right now and the number of big fish caught by anglers is impressive,” said guide and bass fishing legend Tommy Martin.

Martin said the number of fish caught by the Toledo Bend Lake Association Lunker Bass Program shows a very healthy fishery. Last year’s tally was 139 bass weighing 10 pounds or more. And this year the program which runs May-May accepted numerous huge fish including a 12.20-pound monster weighed at Fin & Feather.

Over the last four years anglers like Kevin VanDam, Brent Chapman and others have also listed Toledo Bend as their top lake pick and there is no question the lake is producing its best action in at least 20 years.

This year Bassmaster additionally broke down the list to regions and in the Central Division which goes all the way tup to Minnesota, Sam Rayburn took fourth place.

Big Sam is being out-shined by its eastern neighbor but it is still a world class fishery by any stretch of the imagination and will be a perfect destination for the aforementioned Bassfest.

When the smoke clears these from the professional angler attention our fisheries will remain strong and local anglers have a chance in 2017 to experience the best bass fishing of their lives.

Anglers like to talk about the “glory days” and both Rayburn and Toledo certainly experienced those in the 70s but that was 40 years ago. The now is pretty amazing and the tomorrow could be even better.

There is a reason the biggest bass organization in the world is setting up camp in our backyard and it is because the fishing here is world class.
Let’s enjoy it to the max in 2017.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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