• Toledo Bend

    Toledo Bend Reservoir

    Toledo Bend Reservoir is a reservoir on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana. The lake has an area of 185,000 acres, the largest man-made body of water in Texas, the largest in the South, and the fifth largest in the United States.

  • Toledo Bend Fishing

    Premier Fishing Lake

    The most popular game fish at Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largemouth bass; an excellent year-round fishery exists. Good year-round crappie and catfish fisheries are also present.

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Toledo Bend Sports Guide

Welcome to Toledo Bend’s best bass fishing and boating web portal. Bass fishing news, marinas, lodging, boat repair, tackle shop, bass fishing tournaments, fishing reports, bass fishing guides, bass boat news, bass fishing classified ads, bass fishing product reviews and more.
Texas Bass FishingToledo Bend Guide is dedicated to providing Toledo Bend bass fishing and boating enthusiasts a venue for posting news about your bass fishing and boating experiences, questions and comments. You submit the news about your lake, bass fishing tournaments, conservation issues or anything else, related to bass fishing, boats and boating, that’s on your mind.
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Fishing with a Hook Angel

Hook Angel

Every now and then you come across a really good fishing product and say to yourself …. Now why didn’t I think of that? Well a classic example of this is the Hook Angel.


It’s an innovative and patent-pending product developed by James Ferriss of Deridder, Louisiana that definitely has a place in your tacklebox.


So how does it work?

Well it’s a simple process where you can easily add (or remove) weight to a hook for fishing most any type of bait. And the beautiful part is that no tools are needed to apply or  remove these unique circular weights.

The weights come in a gold 1/32-oz (#1) and a red 1/16-oz. size (#2) and have a special V-slot in the center that allows you add a hook but it will not come off unless the barb is aligned once again with the slot.


The weights are made from tungsten which unlike lead is environmentally friendly. Tungsten is 1.6 heavier than lead and 2.3 times heavier than brass or steel. These small weights can be added to just about any single hook up to a 5/0 or 6/0 .. depending on the brand of hook used.

The weights allow you to easily control the sinking rate of any bait you are fishing and the gold and red colors offer a fish attracting flash as they are sinking.

Setting up a wacky-rig with the Hook Angel is so easy. Simply place the soft plastic on the hook, position the Angel Hook weight and that’s it.


So what if I am fishing the wacky-worm rig and the weather gets windy? Well this is what is so great about the Hook Angel. Just add as many weights as needed until you can fish the bait properly. If it gets less windy just remove a weight or two. Very Simple.


If you are using one of your favorite spinnerbaits but need to cast it further or fish it deeper, simply place one of the Angel Weights over the barb of the spinnerbait hook, add your favorite plastic trailer and you are ready to go.




There are so many ways that these little weights can be used.







But that’s not all. If you want to position Hook Angels at a specific spot on the hook just add a silicon Hook Angel Bait Button Aide and it’s done.

I have also used the Hook Angel when fishing creature baits, flukes, buzzbaits, grubs, tubes and small swimbaits. It works great and is so easy to change or remove weight to fit your fishing needs.


For more information contact: www.hookangel.com or (337) 853-2299 or email at angler@hookangel.com.

It’s a great little product and I love the packaging. The label lists Proverbs 22:6 – Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.  Amen on that!

Good Fishing – JB

Rat-L-Trap Open at Sam Rayburn

Rat-L-Traps and Big Bass … it’s a combination that goes together like red beans and rice. Such was the case when the 2016 Sam Rayburn Rat-L-Trap Open Tournament was held Sunday, January 24th. The tournament was presented by Lew’s/Mustad and sponsored by the Jasper County Development District #1.

The ‘Trap” was made famous on the bassy waters of Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, so it was a natural for Rat-L-Trap to return to the famous waters of Sam Rayburn for its first tournament of the year. For these special Rat-L-Trap Open events anglers can only use Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap baits and the Bill Lewis Echo 1.75 squarebill.


A major cold front entered the area a few days before the event and those anglers pre-fishing had to put up with some very cold rain and gusty winds. Tournament morning saw temperatures on the chilly side when the 143 teams launched their boats at Umphrey Pavilion; however party cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 50’s were experienced by mid-day.

A number of good fish were being weighed in when I was told that one of the teams had a REALLY big bag of bass. Why was no one surprised when the team of Dickie Newberry and Patrick Dennis stepped to the scales and weighed a whopping 26.58 pounds of Rayburn bass.


4 of 5 fish

4 of 5 fish

Newberry is a class act, a legendary angler in the fishing world and always seems to be around big bass – and big paychecks. Among this beautiful 5-bass limit of bass was a 6.19 pound kicker giving the Newberry/Dennis team 1st place and a $3500 paycheck.

Winning Bait

The winning team caught about 20 bass during the day and did most of their damage fishing a ¾-oz Rayburn Red Craw pattern Knock-N Trap near subtle drains and grass in seven feet of water.



Winning Team

The team covered lots of water and caught their bass in five primary locations. I might add that Newberys partner is a fixture on KTAL television in Shreveport as the morning meteorologist and also produces the Bayou Outdoor 365 show on Facebook. Way to go guys!

2nd Place w8.02

Wade and Spriggs

The team of Clint Wade and Stacy Spriggs are no strangers to cashing a check and took second place with a 5-bass limit that weighed 22.60 pounds. The team also had a kicker bass that weighed 8.02 pounds. Pre-fishing the day before the tournament the team only caught five small bass and almost decided not to enter this event. They caught nine keepers during the tournament and almost all of the fish were caught on the Rayburn Red Zombie bait fished very slowly near the “hay”. Clint said he had a great fishing partner since Stacy caught the majority of their second place finish.

3rd Place

Sterling and Hunter

Third place went to the team of Craig Sterling and Ashton Hunter with a bag of bass that weighed 21.64 pounds. They also had a kicker fish that weighed 7.17 pounds. The Sterling/Hunter team fished a ½-oz bleeding shad pattern trap in 4-feet of water and ripped the bait out of the grass to attract their fish. They only had one keeper at 10am, but then they got serious. They hit one spot and caught a quick 5-pounder followed by the 7-pounder and wound up catching about 12-to 15 bass during the day.

The Top 5 was completed with Randy Turner and Brig Luce taking 4th place with 20.19 pounds (5.72 pound kicker) and David and Bobby Driskell taking 5th place with 19.60 pounds (7.10 pound kicker).

Big Bass of the event was a chunk weighing 8.88 pounds taken by the team of Dwight Abshire and Bryon Smith. This team was fishing in about 4-feet of water near grass using a Texas Shad pattern Echo 1.75 squarebill. They had three fish in the livewell, needed a kicker, and on the second cast in a new area the big bass hit. As you can well imagine, it got pretty exciting before the big bass was landed.

As with any bass tournament there were many stories about the big ones that got away. The event paid out 28 places but there were also a number of Lew’s rods and reels given away as door prizes. My compliments to the weigh-in crew for such a smooth process.

I polled a number of anglers and here are some of the other color patterns that were used to bring in good bass. Toledo Gold, Rayburn Red Craw, Red Shad, Chartreuse Shiner, Lake Fork Special, Blue Shiner, Tennessee Shad Chrome, Sexy Gold, Orange Crawdad, Chartreuse Crawdad, Bluegill, Red Chrome, Sexy West and Gold.

Toledo Gold

Toledo Gold

A few of the anglers I interviewed stated that they were using a fishing technique that may help you readers on your next trip. Instead of casting the bait out and just retrieving it in try this: Cast the bait out, let the bait fall to the bottom (or to the top of the grass in area) and then pop the bait with a sudden upward sweep of the rod, let the bait fall back toward the bottom while maintaining a slight pressure on the line, then reel up slack in the line and repeat this process back to the boat. According to these anglers the strike usually occurred when the bait was falling back toward the bottom.

I had a chance to visit with Wes Higgins, President of Bill Lewis Outdoors, and he has every reason to be excited about the new colors and products for 2016.

I especially like the Knock-N-Trap™ with its low-frequency knocking pitch, the Stealth Trap that has tons of vibration and is designed for heavily pressured fish, and how could anyone not like the Hi-Def Traps that feature new High-Definition paint jobs, engraved scale patterns and 3D eyes. As always I was amazed to see the number of new colors that are available such as Sunrise Perch, Chinquapin, Valentine Craw, Barfish and the Purple Tiger. All of these baits have that special action and sound that no other lure has ever been able to replicate.

Great Bill Lewis Baits

Great Bill Lewis Baits

If you haven’t had a chance to use the Bill Lewis Outdoors Echo 1.75 bait you are missing out on one of the premier lures on the market today. The Echo 1.75 offers a perfect balance between the traditional 1.5 and 2.0 sizes that are on today’s market. This thick bodied, flat-sided squarebill has oversized eyes, low and high pitch sound chambers and features a line-tie that’s flush against the bill to prevent hang-ups in cover. The bait is 3-inches long, weighs 5/8-oz and dives 3-to 5-feet in depth. The Echo 1.75 comes in 15 outstanding colors such as Sexy Chrome, Red Crawfish, Sunrise Perch and Blue Shiner. It’s a great bait – Give it a try!

Lews Presentation

Lew’s Presentation

Be sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, February 21st. This is when the 2016 Toledo Bend Rat-L-Trap Open will be held with weigh-in at Cypress Bend Park. The entry fee is $100 per boat with an optional big bass pot of $20. The event will be sponsored by Toledo Bend Lake Country.

For more information on products and upcoming events go to www.rat-l-trap.com or call 1-800-633-4861

Cold Weather Rodney Dangerfield

Cold Weather Rodney Dangerfield’s

The term “Cold Water Rodney Dangerfield” is not in your dictionary so if we were going to update the American Heritage Dictionary with the term it would probably start out with, “a fool, idiot, a brain-dead mentally deficient person, dummy, nincompoop, imbecile or a blockhead.”


My wife added that this definition needs to include a moron that will leave a warm fireplace and go fishing when the cold frigid Arctic air is cutting across the water, continues fishing when his hands, toes and ears have lost all of their feeling, and is too stupid to give it up when conditions get so bad that the fishing line freezes to the rod guides and icicles are forming in the can of Vienna sausages.


For the next couple of months a number of East Texas/Louisiana anglers will have to admit that they have the above-mentioned traits and love to fish during these Arctic conditions. Who knows why the good Lord gave us this desire to be out on the water during the winter, but one thing is sure …. We won’t be alone.


Sitting in front of the TV all weekend watching stupid re-runs just hasn’t turned me on since that cold winter morning a few years ago when I cast a jig-n-pig near a submerged creek channel and worked the bait s-l-o-w-l-y down into the dark slate-colored water. Suddenly I felt the solid “thump” of the strike and when I leaned back on the rod and set the hook I felt the violent reaction of a heavy largemouth bass. The powerful surge of the brute, the monstrous roll of the fish at the surface and then my shaking hands and weak heart as I lifted the lunker into the boat are moments that will be etched in my memory forever.


Unfortunately discovering that some of the biggest bass of a lifetime could be caught during these frigid conditions also changed my life dramatically and marked me as outcast to normal anglers. From that moment on people would mournfully look at me, shake their heads in pity, and offer condolences to my wife. I would be scorned by the public and find compassion only with those of my own kind. I would be classified as a Cold Weather Rodney Dangerfield and suffer the brunt of many jokes.


But all of those giggles and snide remarks by those stupid people snuggled up by the fireplace mean little to me as I reach into the livewell and pull out a humongous big-mouth bass. Yes my friend, its times like these when being an outcast is all worthwhile. If you would like to join this elite group of brave souls who venture out onto cold waters in search of “HOGS” then you should be aware of the pitfalls involved. The following guidelines should help in making your transition to this lifestyle a bit easier:


Winter Fishing Guidelines –

* Always check the weather report before going fishing. This way you can have a valid reason to complain about the forecast of 2% chance of rain when it’s snowing or that light breeze forecast that turns into a 40mph Northern gale.


* Always wear boots… NOT tennis shoes. Dropping a rod and reel on the end of your half-frozen toe is more excruciating pain than many women experience during childbirth.


* Always remember to put the drain-plug into your boat prior to launching. You would think that this one would need no explanation; howStevetobi1ever, some of you will obviously get a case of hypothermia trying to get the plug in while out on the water.


* Always go to the bathroom before you put on two pair of long johns, one pair of pants, a jumpsuit, a snowmobile suit, and raingear. Trust me on this one… just do it.


* Always select a fishing partner with about the same mental capabilities as yourself. Dumb and Dumber is a good partnership. Don’t get tied up with an angler that will keep griping and reminding you how cold it is, or even worse, complaining about how crummy the fishing might be.


* Always wear a life jacket. Most of you can’t even swim in the bathtub so what makes you think you can swim in 40-degree water?


* Always go slow when the boat is moving. There is nothing worse than accidentally hitting a rogue wave and drenching your fishing partners with icy water. This is when you could be unceremoniously thrown into the frigid lake by the same people who just moments before you called friends.


* Always carry an extra 20 pair of gloves. Once the first pair gets wet the extras are tough to find. And don’t plan on your fellow fishermen “friends” letting you use their gloves. It just won’t happen.


* Always check your thermos before offering fellow-fishermen a warm drink. You can lose lots of creditability when you try to pour cold and lumpy chicken soup into your fishing companion’s cup.


*Always check the amount of gasoline you have in the boat. Trying to get your partner to paddle a bass boat three miles home with an oar just doesn’t work.


* Always use “manly baits” such as the jig-n-pig, big crankbaits or jigging spoons. A macho image is everything in bass fishing! Forget the fact that you caught that big stringer of bass on a wimpy drop-shot. Just tell folks that you used the “manly” baits.


I hope that I haven’t painted too bleak a picture because winter fishing also has some really good points. You will almost always have your choice of fishing locations, there are very few jet skis out on the lake, launching areas are not too busy and mosquitoes are seldom a problem.


So put on all of that winter clothing, waddle out to your boat, and work that jig-n-pig down there in Mr. Bass’ lair. As it gets colder and colder and colder just keep reminding yourself that you are having lots of fun. After reading these tips and seeing how much fun you are having I suspect that your wife will actually beg for you to take her along on your next outing. Wouldn’t that be great!


Good Fishing – Jim “Cold Water Rodney Dangerfield” Binns


Thought For The Day – Fishing has been so bad latIMG_4319ely that even the liars aren’t catching anything.

Let’s Take A Trip To North Louisiana


Let’s Take A Trip To North Louisiana

All of us like to go to new and interesting places and North Louisiana offers a potpourri of exciting things to sample. Recently I had the privilege of joining a group of outdoor writers and we sampled some of what this part of the state has to offer and I would like to take you on that journey. Hopefully you and your family can also enjoy some of these attractions.

The group of outdoor writers included Glen Harris (Ruston), Brad Wiegmann (NW Arkansas), John Flores (Patterson), Jimmy Watson (Shreveport) and me (Toledo Bend Lake). Our tour director for this Louisiana North Media Fishing FAM event was Johnny Wessler from the Shreveport area

So what is a FAM trip? Well it is a “familiarization trip or tour” offered to members of the media on behalf of an organization with the purpose of getting the public familiar with their destinations and services they have to offer. It’s a great way for area organizations to get positive publicity and for the media members to have an opportunity to write articles about new and exciting things they have experienced.

Our journey began from the newly renovated and beautiful famholidayHoliday Inn, Downtown Shreveport that is located just one block off I-20 right beside the scenic Red River. The facility includes 5,500-sq-ft of flexible meeting space, free wi-fi access, clean rooms and you will have to go a long way to find a more customer-focused group of folks than the staff at the Holiday Inn.famtube1

This Shreveport/Bossier area is a beehive of activity and offers much to do whether you are in town for business or pleasure. Attractions include the Festival Plaza, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, theatres, churches, shopping at the Louisiana Boardwalk and Pierre Bossier Mall, casinos, Louisiana Downs and a multitude of eating establishments. Keep in mind that there is an old saying in this Cajun Country: We don’t eat to live – we live to eat.


Hull coming out of mold

Our first day began with a hardy breakfast and then a short drive to Epic Boat Company located in Vivian, Louisiana. Steve Hutchins, Lamination Manager, gave us a tour of the facilities and explained how this beautiful line of boats is created. It is amazing how manpower intensive the task of building a boat really is.

Two types of boats are produced at the facility – bay boats and wake boats. Epic Boats founder Chris Anthony wanted to produce the absolutely best boat for wakeboarding and I believe that he has accomplished this task.


Hull out of mold

The wake boats are designed with quick-fill gates that allow water to fill a cavity in the boat which in turn allows the boat to do exactly what Anthony wanted it to do – create a huge wake behind the boat. The boat also has many bells and whistles such as a dual rudder vector steering system, collapsible tower, convenient storage compartments and an eight speaker transom audio.


Steve Hutchins, Lamination Manager shows a boat nearing completion


Ready for the water

The bay boat line features sleek 22SC and 25SC models that offer shallow draft, provide large casting decks and are available in multiple color options. All of the boats produced by Epic are created with a process called resin-infusion. This technology allows Epic achieve a 30% resin to 70% fiberglass ratio which creates a boat that is advertised to be lighter and stronger than any bay boat on the market today.  If you are looking for quality be sure to check out Epic Boats. They are definitely a winner.

Caddo Lake is the next stop and it is the largest naturally famcypress1formed lake in the South and the only natural lake in Texas. This beautiful 25,400 acre lake begins in Texas and ends in Louisiana.  Caddo Lake is a photographers dream with quite coves, swampy sloughs, bayous and thousands of cypress trees, some of which are probably more than 500 years old. The lake is named after the Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo who lived in the area and features the largest cypress forest in the world.


Billy Carter

Billy Carter has been a licensed hunting and fishing guide for more than 35 years and probably has more knowledge of the lake than anyone in the area. Billy and his wife Dottie operate Spatterdock Inc., which includes guest houses, lake tours and guided hunting and fishing trips. Unfortunately about this time on our trip the rains began so our picture taking on this most beautiful lake was somewhat limited.

Caddo’s fishing can be outstanding with largemouth bass (lake record 16.17 pounds), yellow bass, white bass, crappie, bream and goggle eye, and catfish getting most of the attention.  famsky  Carter offers a variety of accommodations for duck hunters and his personalized tours will allow you to see a wide variety of native and migrating birds. This is definitely a lake to see and Billy Carter can make your stay as comfortable and entertaining as possible.

Be sure to check out the Caddo Parish official web-site at www.caddo.org for latest info.


“Captain D” Donny Hood

Lake Claiborne is just east of Homer, Louisiana and in Claiborne Parish was our next stop. This popular man-made reservoir is about 6,400 surface acres and was created by the United States Corps of Engineers in 1970. Lake Claiborne State Park, a Louisiana state maintained camping and recreation area, lies on the southern shore of the lake.We had a tour of the lake and managed to do a bit of fishing with seasoned guide Donny Hood, who I think is on a first-name basis with most of the fish in this lake. What a beautiful lake this is! In fact, I believe this is where I would move if I didn’t already live on beautiful Toledo Bend Lake


Outdoor writer Jimmy Watson with a nice striper

Donny Hood is referred to as “Captain D” and has extensive knowledge of the lake. His Dad had property in this area and Hood has walked this land even before the lake was formed. Largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, black crappie, chain pickerel, bream, channel catfish, spotted bass and white bass are all in this enticing reservoir but Hood keys his fishing primarily on the hybrid striped bass.

It was a delight to be on famclaib5the water with Hood because he truly loves to fish – especially for those stripers. He is also one of those rare guides that doesn’t mind sharing information with others – and that is certainly unusual in these times. He just likes to see people learn how to catch fish.


Two at a time

The rain was still pesky but Hood managed to get our group into about 10 hybrids, and two were caught at the same time while trolling an A-rig with small white curly-tail grubs. Most of these fish were in the pound size but the lake also has some real line stretchers. Hood mainly uses spinning tackle and trolls with either a 3/8-ounce white Worden Rooster Tail with a silver spinner or deeper diving crankbaits. But this sage guide also keeps a Storm Chug Bug handy for those times when schooling bass are feeding on the surface. And for those times when the bass go really deep he reaches for a silver jigging spoon. If you are looking for a fun day on the water with family or friends I suggest that you contact Captain D.

It’s a pleasure to dine at Port au Prince Restaurant that is right on the lake. If you like fried catfish or prime charbroiled steak – this is the place to go. (318) 927-6792. Also check out www.mainstreethomer.org for a list of upcoming events in and around Homer. Each year events such as the Main Street Art Festival, Great Louisiana Harmonica Festival, Cruising The Loop’s Reunion & Rhythm Festival and Taste of Homer draw large crowds and provide food and entertainment.

From here we go to Jimmie Davis State Park which is located on a peninsula on Caney Lake. Opened in the fall of 1996, Jimmie Davis State Park was originally named Caney Creek Lake State Park, but in 2003 was renamed in honor of two-term Governor Jimmie H. Davis. A beautiful mixture of mixed pine and hardwoods surround the lake and make this another spot that will delight photographers. The park has a famstate2playground for kids and nature trails for those that like hiking. Extremely functional and clean cabins (like the one we stayed in) are available along with lodges, camp sites, RV sites and pavilions.famstate1

Time slows down here in the piney woods, the air is clean and a watchful eye may spot a doe and her two fawns, squirrels scampering through the trees or a mother duck and her offspring gliding smoothly across the surface of a quiet cove. Its moments like this that memories are made. No honking of horns, no traffic jams or workday stress. Life is good in the woods of North Louisiana.

Breakfast the following morning was just a short distance from the state park at Brown’s Landing on the famous Caney Lake which is situated between Jonesboro and Chatham just off Hwy 4 in Jackson Parish. Jackson Parish is called the “Sunshine Parish” because of a native son Jimmie Davis who became Governor and made the song “You are My Sunshine” famous.


Brown’s Landing Restaurant & Launching

famcaney1Caney Lake Reservoir was created in 1986 by building a dam on Caney Creek near Chatham Louisiana. If Lake Fork is the big bass champion of Texas then Caney Lake is certainly the big bass champion of Louisiana. Caney Lake’s record largemouth bass is 15.97 pounds, and sixteen of the Top 20 largest bass caught in Louisiana came from this small 5,000 acres impoundment. The deepest part of the lake is around 15- to 20 feet, but it is a lunker factory at certain times of the year, especially springtime. There are public launches at Ebenezer Landing down near the dam and an excellent launching facility right in front of the Brown’s Landing restaurant.


Caney Lake Expert  Donny Freeman

Donny Freeman of Jonesboro was our tour guide on Caney Lake but after about 30-minutes the rain started coming down in buckets so we headed back to the launching area. Over a warm cup of coffee, Freeman schooled our group on tips and techniques for catching some of the fish in Caney Lake.famcaney6

The lake has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, spotted bass, white bass and striped bass, but for the next few months lunker largemouth bass will be the target. Drop-shot rigs using plastic baits are frequently used, along with large plastic worms, jigs & trailers, crankbaits and artificial frogs or topwater lures fished near brush and lily pad areas. Springtime offers the best chance for a double-digit bass but big bass are brought in throughout the year.

Jackson Parish was formed in 1845 from parts of Claiborne, Ouachita, and Union Parishes. It was certainly my pleasure to meet Fannie William and Mac who do volunteer work for the Jackson Parish Tourism Board and the Chamber of Commerce. These folks would be good contacts if you are interested in activities such as the Sunshine Festival, Halloween In The Park, Chatham “Honor Our Heroes”, Jackson Parish Museum or the Christmas Parade and Lighting Display. And did you know that Jackson Parish has even appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest unbroken sidewalk in the world? The two mile sidewalk connects Jonesboro to its nearest neighbor, the village of Hodge, where world-recognized Stone Container Paper Mill is located. For more information and schedules for family-oriented events call the Jackson Parish Tourism office at 318-259-4693 or


Jim Binns at Peckerwood Hill Store

Our next stop in the “Sunshine Parish” was mostly devoted to former governor Jimmie Davis. The Tabernacle on Beech Springs Road is the site of weddings, revivals, gospel singings and the annual Jimmie Davis Memorial Homecoming. A cemetery where Davis is buried is nearby along with his childhood home and the Peckerwood Hill Store.

The Jackson Parish Museum & Fine Arts Association offers a variety of items related to this mans life and is another very interesting place to visit.


Singer Sewing Machine


James Houston “Jimmie” Davis

(September 11, 1899 – November 5, 2000) was a songwriter of popular songs and served as governor of Louisiana for two nonconsecutive terms from 1944 to 1948 and from 1960 to 1964. He was a popular country music and gospel singer and was inducted into six famdavis1halls of fame which included Country Music, Gospel and Louisiana Music. He has state parks and bridges named after him and appeared in seven Hollywood movies. Davis was 101 years and 55 days old when the Lord took him home, which made him the longest-lived of all U.S. state governors at the time of his death. What an exciting life he had.

The final stop in our journey was supposed to have taken place at beautiful Cypress Bend Resort

Sunset near the 17th-hole at Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center

Sunset near the 17th-hole at Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center

on the Number 1 Ranked Bass Fishing Lake in the nation – Toledo Bend Lake. But Mother Nature had other plans and decided to unleash rain, wind and occasional lighting so that part of the trip has been delayed until a later time.

Well there you are a journey through a magical part of Louisiana that offers exciting adventures for people of all ages and the opportunities are endless. Camping, shopping, fishing or just a quiet walk in the woods … This area offers it all. I love the woods and a day spent in the beauty of Gods work offers a peaceful serenity to the soul. Make a special point to add these Northwest Louisiana sites to your bucket list of things to do in the future. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

Good fishing and traveling – JB

Extra Information –

Holiday Inn Downtown Shreveport
102 Lake Street
Shreveport, Louisiana

Shreveport-Bossier City Convention & Tourism Center
629 Spring Street
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
(888) 45-VISIT

Epic Boats
680 South Pardue
Vivian, LA 71082

Spatterdock, Inc. – Caddo Lakefamclaib6
Billie and Dottie Carter
168 N. Mossy Brake Rd.
Uncertain, Texas 75661

Donny Hood- Lake Claiborne 
675 Harmon Loop
Homer, Louisiana 71040

Lake Claiborne State Park
225 State Park Rd.
Homer, Louisiana
(888) 677-2524

Jimmie Davis State Park
1209 State Park Road
Chatham, LA 71226

Caney Lakefamcypress2

Netbait Jigs

Toledo Bend – A Jewel In The Piney Woods


       Toledo Bend – A Jewel In The Piney Woods

IMG_0809 It was an exciting evening on August 13th, 2015, as an over-flow crowd attended the Toledo Bend Lake Celebration event at Cypress Bend Resort. Linda Curtis-Sparks, Director, Sabine Parish Tourist Commission, coordinated the event and she and her staff did an outstanding job!

The event began with food and drinks and then those attending viewed a very informative slideshow that gave a detailed history of how Toledo Bend Lake was created and the efforts of many people through the years that have worked so hard to make this lake what it is today.

By now most of you probably know that Toledo Bend Reservoir recently went into elite status when “Bassmaster” Magazine announced that of the 230 potential fisheries to be named the best-of-the-best — Toledo Bend was selected as the # 1 Bass Fishing Lake in the Country. In this case — The South truly did rise again

Patty7James Hall, Editor of Bassmaster Magazine was in attendance and presented this prestigious #1 Rated Fishing Lake award and complimented all of the groups involved for the great job they have done to achieve this goal.

James Hall (on right) presents award

(Left to right) John Toliver-TBLA, Jim Pratt-SRA-LA, Linda Curtis-Sparks-Sabine Parish Tourist Comm, James Hall – Bassmaster


So how did Bassmaster come up with this ranking? Well many B.A.S.S. Nation Leadership, 630,000 B.A.S.S. Facebook followers, 3,500 member B.A.S.S. Council & State Wildlife Departments were asked for input. Next, all of this information was then compared to results from various bass tournaments. And finally a 15-person panel finalized the results. And the final result was “The Bend” is the lake of choice for anglers throughout the country. Second place in this years ballot went to Sturgeon Bay (Lake Michigan), Wisconsin, 3rd place – Lake St. Clair, Michigan, 4th place – California Delta, California and 5th place – Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas.

This announcement will no doubt offer a huge economic boost for our area. Expect anglers to come from all parts of the world to test these fertile waters. But it will certainly add additional fishing pressure to the lake. I believe that Toledo Bend is big enough to stand this pressure and well managed enough by our Texas Parks & Wildlife and Louisiana Game & Fish Departments to just get better and better.

Malcolm Franks

Malcolm Franks

Bass tournaments held on Toledo Bend Lake are a huge economical benefit to our area, especially quality events such as the Bassmaster series. I wrote an article a few years ago and at that time a Texas A&M study revealed that bass anglers fishing Lake Amistad fueled a $32 million economic boom for the Del Rio area alone. Angler expenditures for things such as lodging, fuel, food and tackle can generate substantial revenue for communities located near these popular fishing locations and help support angler-related business and jobs.

Getting closer to home lets take a look at the economic value of tournament angling at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. From November 2007 to October 2008 a study was funded by the Jasper County Development District #1 and conducted by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department with the following results:

• The total economic value of the fishery was estimated at $47.1 million
• Angling expenditures total $32.3 million for tournament and non-tournament anglers
• Angling expenditures for only tournament anglers totaled $23.7 million which comprised 73% of all angler expenditures.
• The total economic value of tournament angling was $31.0 million
• Angling expenditures by tournament anglers resulted in $39 million in output to the State of Texas from direct, indirect and induced effects. These incomes include $12.8 million in labor income, $23.6 million of value added and 486 full or part-time jobs
• Angling expenditures for non-tournament anglers totaled $8.6 million. The total economic value of non-tournament angling was $16.1 million
• Angling expenditures by non-tournament anglers resulted in $13 million in output to the State of Texas from direct, indirect and induced effects. These incomes include $4 million in labor income, $8 million of value added and 159 full or part-time jobs
• A total of 405 tournament events were held with 25, 396 total participants (bass clubs and major tournaments)
• Tournament anglers spent $5.8 million for tournament entry fees, $5.2 million for automobile operation, and $3.9 million for boat operation
• Of all tournaments, The Sealy Outdoors McDonald’s Big Bass Splash 3-day event had the most participants at 3,892 and accounted for the largest angling expenditure for a single event at $6.3 million. Total economic value of the event was estimated at $8.0 million.

These bass tournaments can be big bucks !!!!!

(James Hall announced at the end of the event that the Bassmaster tournament would return to Toledo Bend on May 12-15th, 2016).

Sunset near the 17th-hole at Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center

Sunset near the 17th-hole at Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center

All of us are truly blessed. .. That is for sure. Those people living in the big cities sit in those stuffy offices and dream about returning to the beauty and richness of our area, and Toledo Bend Lake in particular. When our children grow up, they aren’t going to remember who the best rap star was, what generation of IPod they were using or how many likes (or dislikes) they got on their Facebook or Twitter account. But they will remember their family trips to Toledo Bend and the first fish they caught.

Visitors at Toledo Bend can enjoy the many beautiful coves surrounded by timbered shorelines and I think all of you would agree that the wildflowers in this area are truly Mother Nature’s masterpiece. Bass boats, ski boats, kayaks, pontoon boats, jet skis and sailboats – they all have a home on the beautiful waters of Toledo Bend. We also have an abundance of wildlife in the area with many species of birds (both

Beautiful Toledo Bend Sunset

Beautiful Toledo Bend Sunset

resident and migrating species), white tail deer, fox, raccoons and definitely a wild hog or two. The Toledo Bend Lake area is certainly a unique and beautiful place to visit … and a special place to live. We need to spread that word to others throughout our state … and country.

Spreading the word should actually be a relatively easy task since the lake is truly a jewel in the piney woods with a length from the dam to Logansport, LA of about 65 miles. Add to this 185,000 surface acres and a shoreline of approximately 1,200 miles and it makes Toledo Bend the largest man-made body of water in the south – fifth largest in surface acres in the USA. And isn’t it wonderful to see the lake this full after witnessing the historic low water level in 2011 of 159.6 feet MSL – which was 12.4 feet low. Those were tough times for everyone, and all I can say is – Keep the water level up SRA! And believe me; we all understand that you never know the worth of water till the well runs dry.

We are proud of Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn but we are equally proud of the quality of anglers such as Tommy Martin, Todd Faircloth, Harold Allen, and many others that have built their reputations on these fertile waters. These legends have been great ambassadors for telling others what quality fisheries we have here in the Tex/La area.

Toledo Bend Lake is alive and well as evidenced by the 2013 Fisheries Management Survey Report put together by Texas Parks & Wildlife Inland Fisheries Division Biologists Todd Driscoll and Dan Ashe. This was data taken from fish populations surveyed in 2013-2014 using electro-fishing and gill netting – and anglers surveyed during that same timeframe.

Typically, 65 to 80% of annual angling effort is directed toward the black bass and about 36% was tournament-related. Approximately 15 to 20% of anglers target crappie with an annual harvest of > 200,000 fish. Texas and Louisiana combined have stocked a total of 28,347,020 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings. Obviously there are quite a few other species roaming these waters to attract visiting anglers such as blue, channel and flathead catfish, stripers, bluegill, yellow bass and white bass.Sabine-Tourist-Commission-1447

If you are a bass fisherman and have a great desire to catch one of those really big Toledo Bend bass then you need to take note of the Toledo Bend Lake Association. This is a non-profit group dedicated to maintaining and improving the quality of Toledo Bend Lake so it will continue for many years as a world class fishery and recreational resource. This organization makes a tremendous impact in a positive way … and one of those ways is the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program. The goal of this program is to encourage the return of trophy fish (10 pounds or better) to the lake by rewarding anglers a replica of the lunker caught. Hopefully the bass will once again spawn and produce more potential lunkers – and continue to grow and be caught again by another angler.

Does the program work? WOW!!! Does it!!!! There were 58 lunkers in 2013, 61 lunkers in 2014, and 81 lunker bass replicas this year. Among the 81 entries – 47 were in the 10 pound class, 28 in 11 pound range, six 12-pounders, with the and largest being 12.81 pounds. Eight of these massive fish qualified for the Top 100 ever caught on TB.

And Toledo Bend isn’t just about LA and TX anglers. Lunker entries presented to official weigh-in stations this year were also from Illinois, Iowa, and Tenn. All 81 of these huge bass were tagged and returned to spawn and fight again another day. Five of the bass had been caught before. From 1992 through the 2013-2014 seasons, more than 590 Lunkers have been caught and released through the program and 421 lunker replicas have been created since the program started ten years ago. That’s Impressive! And in case you are wondering – The lake record bass for Toledo Bend was caught by Eric Weems on 7/30/2000 and weighed a hefty 15.33 pounds.

Crowd shot at McDonalds Big Bass Splash

Crowd shot at McDonalds Big Bass Splash

Let me also mention Bob Sealy’s McDonalds Big Bass Tournament this year on Toledo Bend – Winning bass was a hefty 11.48 pounds – with 2nd place being 11.45 pounds and the 3rd place bass weighed 10.37 pounds. Those are Big Bass for any lake. But most anglers think that there are many even bigger bass swimming in these waters.


Another organization that should get your attention is the Great East Texas Outdoor Fest. The long-range goal of this group is to eventually build a first-class pavilion, park and boat ramp area on the Texas side of Toledo Bend Lake. Building these facilities will play a big part in our economical growth and can be the catalyst for bringing more and more businesses and major bass events to our area.

So what challenges do we face? An adequate water supply for our lake and a robust economy are certainly key factors, but in my opinion one of Toledo Bends greatest challenges in the upcoming years will not be normal day-to-day business needs but government regulations. We see this in many other areas so make sure that you are aware of pending regulations that may affect activities on and around our lake. We need to keep control of items such as Regulations, Conservation, Recreation Use, Fisheries Management, etc. at a State Level – with those folks that know our needs and concerns best.

(from left to right) Linda Curtis-Sparks, Patty Lenderman & Jim Pratt

(from left to right) Linda Curtis-Sparks, Patty Lenderman & Jim Pratt

One of the high-lights of the evening was when Jim Pratt, Director, Sabine River Authority of Louisiana, presented Patty Lenderman, Editor of The Lakecaster publication, an award to celebrate the 25 years that this fine publication has served our area businesses and fishermen. Patty8

The Lakecaster prints more than 17,000 copies each month with distribution throughout a wide area  in Texas and Louisiana.         Congratulations to The Lakecaster!

Our area leaders expressed to the BASS organization that we are very aware of the expectations when our lake was selected as #1 in the country. Texas and Louisiana want to provide the very best venue for attracting quality bass tournaments and we are certainly aware of the economic benefits that these major events can provide.

Todd Driscoll, James Hall & Sabine County Judge Daryl Melton

Todd Driscoll, James Hall & Sabine County Judge Daryl Melton

There are many fine marinas and lodging facilities on both the Texas and Louisiana side of Toledo Bend Lake; however, in my opinion Cypress Bend is certainly one of the finest in the country. As I mentioned previously, The Great East Texas Outdoor Fest organization has a goal of building a first class pavilion, park and boat ramp that can address the many needs of families and future bass tournaments. A model to work toward would certainly be that of the Cypress Bend Resort/Marina.

Linda Curtis-Sparks

Linda Curtis-Sparks

My thanks to Linda Curtis Sparks and her fine staff for giving us such a wonderful model to work toward, and thanks also for taking us down memory lane and showing how Toledo Bend was created and has blossomed into the premier fishing lake in the country.

Congratulations to all of you that have worked so hard to achieve this!

Over-flow crowd

Over-flow crowd

**Thanks to Patty Lenderman and the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission for supplying some of the photos used in this article  – JB

Big Lake! Big Fish! Big Fun!