BROOKELAND, Texas. – Pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas brought a giant five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 32 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and earn the top payout of $80,500. With Day 1 cancelled due to high winds and dangerous boating conditions, Ebare weighed in 10 bass over the two days of competition totaling 48-10 to earn the win by a 1-pound, 5-ounce margin over Wyatt Frankens of Corrigan, Texas, who finished second with a two-day total of 47-5, to take home $17,000.
Ebare has competed in more than 50 Toyota Series events in his young career, had several close finishes on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and finished his debut on the Bass Pro Tour in 2022 with high points and another set of close finishes, yet has never been able to pull out a major win. Until now.
“I don’t take any of that stuff for granted,” Ebare said. “All of the close calls I’ve had over the last several years have been great, and I’m thankful for every one of those good finishes. But at the end of the day, I’m a competitor and I want to win, so to finally accomplish that is a great feeling.”
The Brookeland pro ended Day 1 tied for seventh place. Not the start that he was hoping for, but he was able to salvage the day with a kicker-fish that put him at 16-6, keeping him afloat and in the running for the final day.
“The wind was gassin’ and made it really hard to set up on Day 1,” said Ebare. “I ended the day really disappointed, because I knew I had the chance to catch them big. I had a big one on the crankbait wrap me around a tree and get off, and I lost another really big one on an A-rig. I had a chance to have a giant bag and was pretty disappointed that it didn’t work out.”
Day 2 started off with a bang, with Ebare having more than 25 pounds by mid-morning.
“Today I caught a couple on a football jig and if I’d have picked up that football jig yesterday, it might have gotten really good,” Ebare said. “Because of the wind and how they were set up on Day 1, I decided to throw a Carolina rig and they weren’t really having it. I really wished I’d picked up a football jig yesterday. I’m still thinking about what I could have done better.”
Ebare said he was targeting big winter and prespawn bass in about 15 feet of water. He caught his winning fish on a Strike King 6XD, an umbrella rig with 1/4-ounce heads and Strike King Rage Swimmers, a Strike King Elite 300 jerkbait and a football jig.
“There was never a point today that I was comfortable,” said Ebare. “I had a feeling it was going to take a lot of weight to win this tournament, so I never let off the gas all day. I stopped here on the dam and tried to catch a couple with 5 minutes to go. I really felt like I needed to have more weight and I wasn’t going to stop until it was time to go in.
“I was pretty deflated when I got back on the bank and they told me Wyatt had a big bag and had over 47 pounds total,” Ebare continued. “There was no way in my mind that I thought I had over 30 pounds. I didn’t take time to weigh the bigger fish – they were really big and I knew that, but I didn’t realize how big they were. I figured I had about 29 pounds, which would have put me in second or third place, again. So, when I saw the 32-4 come across the screen on stage, I was ecstatic. That was a really exciting moment, and the biggest weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
As for what’s next, Ebare said he’s on his way to the next tournament and ready to hit the water again with an open mind.
“I’m very thankful and grateful that this one came together, and we finally got that win, but it doesn’t really change anything as far as my game plan moving forward,” Ebare said. “I’m heading to a new lake and a new tournament and we’re going to keep working hard and putting God first and let the rest fall where it may.”
The Top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro River Lee of Nacogdoches, Texas won the $500 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Thursday with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 13 ounces. On Friday, pro Marshall Hughes of Hemphill, Texas, earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize after bringing a whopping 9-pound, 8-ounce bass to the scale.
Ebare took home an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Justin Swayze of Gurdon, Arkansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Friday with a two-day total of 8 bass weighing 25 pounds even. Swayze took home the top prize package worth $33,500, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The Top 10 Strike King Co-anglers on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
Roger Dorsey of Oil City, Louisiana was the Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, Thursday, with an 8-pound, 4-ounce bass, while the $150 award went to Swayze on Friday, with a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass.
With one regular-season event in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division now complete, pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas leads the Southwestern Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 260 points, while Justin Swayze of Gurdon, Arkansas leads the Strike King Co-angler Division AOY race with 260 points.
The Toyota Series at Sam Rayburn, hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, was the first of three regular-season events for the Toyota Series Southwestern Division. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will be the Toyota Series at the Harris Chain of Lakes, Feb. 1-3, in Leesburg, Florida. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST V. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, and is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.