Rayburn Reservoir Hosts Record 28th BASS Tournament

JASPER, Texas — When the CITGO Bassmaster Central Open comes to Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas Sept. 15-18, it will mark the 28th time BASS has visited the esteemed bass factory – a record that outstrips every other fishery in the nation.

Few bass waters have remained as popular — or withstood the test of time as well — as the 114,500-acre reservoir. By impounding the Angelina River in 1965, the Army Corp of Engineers created Rayburn, a massive flood control project that encompasses five counties. Fed by the Attoyac River and Attish Bayou, Rayburn is 45 miles long (from north to south) and has more than 560 miles of shoreline.

With its lush hydrilla beds and big bass, Rayburn has long been a bass enthusiast's dream.

“It’s going to fish a little different this year than it has the last few years because for some reason we’ve lost a lot of the hydrilla in there,” said David Wharton, a four-time BASS winner and former guide on Rayburn Reservoir “The hydrilla is in bad shape. What hydrilla that’s there is growing real shallow. So it’s going to be a different deal than what most of the guys are accustomed to fishing there in the fall.

“Also, last year there was a big bite in the lily pads. I’m not sure that’s going to happen quite as good this year. The lake has stayed up pretty high all year and the pads have not grown like they should. The high water all year has got the hydrilla in worse shape.

“So it’s going to fish a little different. Really what that translates to is there’s going to be some structure fish to be caught out there in that 15- to 20-foot range with Carolina rigging and a deep-running crankbait. There’s also going to be some shallow fish. There’s still some shallow hydrilla in certain areas that’s going to produce some fish. But the hydrilla is not all over the lake like it was the last few years.”

The BASS Central Open held here last October was won by Cliff Pace. The 23-year-old Mississippi pro caught 46 pounds of bass using a plastic frog in lily pad fields in the backs of several creeks and flats.

“For this time of year, the lake has an awful lot of water in it,” said Todd Faircloth, a Central Open competitor who grew up fishing Rayburn. “Usually it’s down a lot more.

“The grass is pretty scattered, which will change things. It’s going to put a lot more people fishing in small areas because there’s just not a whole lot of grass on the lake. We’re not getting a lot of the main-lake grass like we used to for some reason. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the water being up a lot of the year.

“There will be some fish caught deep and some fish caught shallow. I would say the tournament will be won shallow.”

This time around, Wharton predicts that it will take about 50 pounds to claim the $50,000 top prize.

“There will be a lot of fish caught,” he emphasized. “There’s a lot of limit fish out there.”

Anglers will launch from Twin Dikes Marina at 6:45 a.m. beginning Thursday. Weigh-ins will be at the marina at 2:45 p.m. daily.

A Bassmaster CastingKids event presented by CITGO will be conducted by the Texas BASS Federation Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Twin Dikes Marina. For more information, contact Gary Smith at 281-850-7861.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Open series presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local Sponsors include the Jasper/Lake Sam Rayburn Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375.