Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments - Major League Fishing
Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments
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Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

Brian Latimer reflects on the January slugfest at Sam Rayburn
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January 22, 2019 • Brian Latimer • Angler Columns

Our first FLW Tour event of the year was a pretty dramatic one for sure. Anytime we have events early in the year the major concern is foul weather. Cold fronts, ice and snow are what I usually worry about. At Sam Rayburn, we actually had perfect weather. It was warm in practice, and the first two days of the tournament were cold, but that was it.

However, recent rain events created some drama. As a matter of fact, we had about 9 feet of fresh lake to fish. Usually that makes fishing shoreline cover really, really good. 

I literally lose sleep thinking about how fish move during the spring of the year. It’s so fascinating to watch how bass transition shallow, and that’s what I expected to happen, but it didn’t this time. The Rayburn event proved that high water doesn’t guarantee bass will move immediately. 

At Sam Rayburn I think we experienced our first true wintertime tournament in a very long time. Most of the fish were fat from gorging on shad, and they were caught much deeper than usual. That made fishing fun. Most of the events we fish fall on the spawn, prespawn or postspawn periods. It’s very rare that we get to visit any fisheries during the true winter period. The change in pace was a bit of a curveball, however, it created suspense and interest from all of the anglers involved. 

When we fish prime fisheries during the winter periods big things happen, and Sam Rayburn didn’t disappoint at all. It’s pretty rare to see an 11-pounder weighed in, and Andy Wicker found one.

I actually expected the weights to be lower than average with the extreme conditions, but Terry Bolton proved that he could connect with the biggest bass in the lake. Catching 33 pounds of bass like he did on day two is rare with 170 competitors. Not only is that awesome, but I was doubtful that could happen with the crazy water fluctuations we had. I was wrong. I’m always impressed with the way our Tour veterans quickly eliminate patterns that are least productive and improvise on the way to finding the juice.

Hopefully this won’t be the last time we visit Sam Rayburn. More importantly, I hope it’s not the last time we have an event scheduled during the true winter period of the year. Variety is good. Visiting different areas of the country grows our sport, and scheduling events over several seasons highlights more techniques. That’s a win for the sport, for the anglers and the fans!