By Joel Shangle - December 12, 2018
CONROE, Texas – They say that everything is bigger in Texas. In the history of Major League Fishing, that certainly holds true: 2017 General Tire World Champion Bobby Lane broke the MLF all-time weight record with an 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth at a 2015 event held in the Lone Star State.
Don’t be surprised if that mark is surpassed more than once Feb. 12-17 when the MLF Bass Pro Tour makes its second stop of the 2019 season, at Lake Conroe in Montgomery County.
“Conroe is a big bass factory,” said MLF pro Kelly Jordon, who lives in Flint, Texas, roughly 150 miles north of Conroe. “It’s well-known as one of those Texas lakes where you have a really, really good chance of catching a giant. It cycles like any other lake, but it’s a lake that’s known for really solid fish, and some truly big ones.”
Statistics from the Texas Park and Wildlife Division’s (TWPD) Toyota ShareLunker Program back that up: since the program – which curates a list of trophy-sized fish caught and registered in Texas fisheries – was created in 1986, Conroe has produced 17 fish over 13 pounds (including the lake record, a 15.93-pound behemoth caught on a plastic worm and successfully released in 2009 by Ricky Bearden).
The biggest largemouth even taken in TPWD electro-fishing surveys came from under a dock on Conroe (a 14-1 captured in 1998)
“That lake just has good quality bass,” said MLF veteran Gary Klein, who lived on Conroe for three years in the 1990s. “It’s one of those spots where you can catch a 10 or a 12 on one cast, and the next bite will be a 4. They’re just good, healthy bass.”
MLF anglers have history on Conroe
Lake Conroe’s productivity has made it an attractive venue for competitions, and the City of Conroe has hosted several major events in the past 10 years. The fishery has been kind to several of the MLF Bass Pro Tour anglers who will be competing on it in 2019:
- Jordan Lee won the 2017 Bassmaster Classic on Conroe, a tournament in which Brent Ehrler caught a 9-12 and Ott Defoe weighed in a 9-9.
- Mike Iaconelli caught a giant on the final day of that same Classic, and logged 8-plus-pound fish in three of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic events he fished on Conroe.
- Dave Lefebre took home a $200,000 first-place payday when he won the 2009 Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Conroe
“I haven’t been back to Conroe since I won the Classic in 2017, but it’s a really special place to me,” Lee said. “I’m excited to get back. We’re going there at an awesome time of year, so I think there’s going to be a lot of big fish caught.
The timing is right for giants
Lee’s enthusiasm for the event timing is warranted: The MLF Bass Pro Tour’s arrival at Conroe in late February is, as Jordon puts it, “a perfect storm for big fish.”
“We ought to hit it right on the edge of pre-spawn, going into spawn,” Jordon says. “All those big fishshould be moving to the shoreline, and that’s when those big fish show themselves better than any time of the year on Conroe. That lake doesn’t really have any grass, so it doesn’t have a lot of offshore cover. When we’re there in late February, I’ll assume there will be some 10s, no question.”
NOTES: Conroe’s five biggest ShareLunkers are 15.93 (2009), 14.91 (1997), 14.8 (2006), 14.48 (2006) and 14.22 (2005); 13 MLF Bass Pro Tour pros finished in the Top 15 at the 2017 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe