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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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