Hughes blasts 38-7 to seize the lead at Sam Rayburn  - Major League Fishing

Hughes blasts 38-7 to seize the lead at Sam Rayburn 

Image for Hughes blasts 38-7 to seize the lead at Sam Rayburn 
Marshall Hughes leads the way with a Day 2 total of five bass weighing 38 pounds, 7 ounces for a two-day total of 50-14. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Marshall Hughes.
February 10, 2024 • Jody White • Invitationals

BROOKELAND, Texas — Day 2 of Stop 1 Presented by Power-Pole MOVE on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was an absolute fireworks show. Alec Morrison and Cole Breeden both caught 11-pounders, and nine pros topped 20 pounds. Headlining it all, local rookie Marshall Hughes blitzed 38 pounds, 7 ounces to tally up 50-14 and rocket into the lead. Of course, Hughes had an 11-pounder as well (the third of the day) and staked himself a little more than a 6-pound cushion after only scratching up 12-7 on Day 1. 

Hughes has a sterling record on Sam Rayburn and should certainly be riding high, but he’s not safe yet. Behind him are some of the best in the game with forward-facing sonar. Hughes might have the edge on local knowledge, but Day 3 of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event could be a shootout for the ages. 

Historically speaking, it’s basically impossible to know if this weigh-in featured a record-breaking number of 11-pounders. It likely didn’t, but it sure feels special, especially for Sam Rayburn. Similarly, Hughes’ bag is a record for the fledgling Invitationals circuit and the fourth-biggest ever on Sam Rayburn in MLF competition. It doesn’t quite crack the Top 10 MLF bags of all-time, though – 10th in that case belongs to Terry Bolton with 38-15 that he caught in 2008 on Falcon Lake. Breeden’s 11-12 Berkley Big Bass tied for the third-biggest Big Bass awarded on Rayburn.

Afternoon adjustment sends Hughes to the top 

Marshall Hughes got weigh-in rolling in style today. Photo by Jody White

Midway through the day, it looked like one of the storylines would be a lack of big bags. Usually, by noon of any Rayburn event, somebody has cracked a bag in the upper 20s or 30s, and they might be headed back to the dock to wait for the scales to open. Then, things started clicking for Hughes. 

“I had like 14 pounds at like 11 or something; I was kind of down in the dumps with 14 pounds that late in the day,” Hughes said. “I started running around, running some new stuff. I was trying what I did yesterday, and it wasn’t working. I ran up to a hard spot, a shallower hard spot, and got bit and caught one — it was a 5-pounder, my small one.”

That was the only clue he needed.  

“So, I started running that stuff, and I pulled up on one, and they had just moved up and started feeding,” he said. “It was just balls to the walls. I’ve never seen what I saw today, ever.”

Fishing in 12 to 15 feet with a Bill Lewis Scope-Stik and a 5/8-ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a Yamamoto Flappin’Hog, Hughes watched most of the fish bite on forward-facing sonar. 

“I rolled in, and they were there feeding,” he said. “It wasn’t like they were schooled up together. It was one there, one here. The ones that were higher up came on the jerkbait. The water is dingy right now; it’s hard for them to see it.” 

Fishing 60 or 70 tournaments a year, Hughes is a full-time fisherman who hasn’t gone national – yet. Now, he’s looking to start his rookie year with a win. All he needs to do is have another good day on a lake he calls home. 

“This afternoon, I just went out and started plucking around,” he said. “I love to catch ‘em on a ‘trap’ — I feel like that’s my forte — but they ain’t eatin’ a ‘trap’ now, so they’re putting me elsewhere. I need to just go fishing like I did today.”

Morrison lurking, could he do it again?

Alec Morrison caught one of three 11-pounders today, and it helped put him right in the mix for Day 3. Photo by Jody White

There is a short list of Rayburn superstars, and pretty much all of them have Texas or Louisiana addresses. Last year, Morrison beat most of them with a record-setting winning margin in the summertime Toyota Series event. Now, after busting 25-9 on Day 2, it is looking like the New York angler should consider a move to Texas, if only to be closer to a lake that he seems to make money on every time he launches the boat.

Though there were some fish caught in and around grass on the day, and some caught around grass on Day 1, Morrison is headlining the forward-facing pattern. Mixing up forward-facing fish out in the open and on wood, when he casts, there’s usually a bass in sight.

“I feel like a lot of them are moving shallow, but I’m staying deep, staying behind my electronics, and basically fishing for them how I like to do it,” Morrison said. “So, hopefully, they don’t really move up anymore and I can catch a few more tomorrow.”

While things happened really fast this afternoon for Hughes, his experience wasn’t standard for this week on Rayburn. It seems like most have to put the time in to build top-end bags.

“Even just getting 3-pound-plus fish can be kind of tricky at times,” Morrison said. “I feel like there is some pretty good quality up shallow, but out deep it’s like I really have to cover a lot of water and do a lot of looking and I’m not getting a lot of opportunities in a single day. But, when I get around them, it seems like I can catch them, so I’ve just gotta do my best to find some more.”

As for winning, Morrison cherishes the idea of a fishing career, and coming back for a win would advance him along that path quite a ways.

“It’d be pretty cool (to win),” he said. “I’d probably shed some tears – this lake is so special, the best couple of days of my life were last year, here in May. To do it again at the same place would be amazing.”

Lawrence and Lane tied by weight, doing things differently

Jake Lawrence and Cal Lane are fishing like they’re on different lakes. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Though Jake Lawrence (third) and Cal Lane (fourth) have both tallied up 43-9 over two days, they’re fishing new-school and old-school Rayburn.

Lane has been blitzing out to 20 pounds every morning, and he found his fish with actual side scan, not anything newfangled.  

“I just always heard and read about catching them offshore with a big crankbait this time of year in Texas, and back on Guntersville, I love doing that, we do that all the time,” Lane said. “In practice, I just figured I’d look around for a little bit and I found a school right off the bat. I’ve got three or four schools that I think I can get a bite out of, I just don’t know how big they are. The one I’ve started on these last two days definitely seems to have the bigger fish in it and I just hope they’re there tomorrow.”

On the other hand, Lawrence is hardcore ‘Scoping.

“I’m ‘scoping every one of them. I caught some fishing in practice, but I’ve been ‘Scoping during the tournament,” he said. “I can’t get on a defined pattern and run it around,” Lawrence said. “I’ve got one stretch of timber in a drain on the lower end that I’ve caught the majority of my weight out of. And that’s really where the majority of the big ones that I saw during practice were. But, it’s not like you can run to any standing timber.”

Huge comebacks are possible on Rayburn – a 6-pound deficit on Big Sam is not the same as a 6-pound deficit on Champlain. But, for almost everyone but Hughes, it’s going to take a really special day to win. That day could happen for a bunch of the top 30, five of the right bites can go a long way.

“We’re going to need a big bag (tomorrow),” Lawrence said. “As random as it is, I’m consistently seeing three to four big ones a day. If I can just see six or seven, then I can catch five of those. I just cannot seem to run into five of them during the day. But, that’s what it is going to take tomorrow – I just need five of them to swim in front of my transducer and we can make it interesting.”

Top 10 pros 

1. Marshall Hughes – 50 – 14 (10)       
2. Alec Morrison – 44 – 3 (10)               
3. Jake Lawrence – 43 – 9 (10)             
4. Cal Lane – 43 – 9 (10)          
5. Drew Gill – 43 – 3 (10)         
6. Keith Poche – 41 – 14 (10)  
7. Brody Campbell – 41 – 5 (10)         
8. Nick Hatfield – 41 – 1 (10)                 
9. Brock Reinkemeyer – 38 – 8 (10)
10. Nick LeBrun – 38 – 6 (10)                

Complete results

Fishing Clash AOY

Tackle Warehouse Invitationals anglers will compete throughout the 2024 season for the prestigious Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and its $50,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. 

You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to for more information.