The last time the FLW Tour visited Lake Travis in 2007, a “giant bag” was 13 or 14 pounds and the event was won with an average of 10 pounds a day.
What a difference a drought, ample habitat growth and a deluge of new water can make. Travis bass have grown up quite a bit, and they were on full display at the day one weigh-in of the FLW Tour at Lake Travis presented by Quaker State on Thursday.
Leader Bryan Thrift sacked 24 pounds, 12 ounces, and behind him is a 20-pound, 5 ounce catch and a 19-pound, 4 ounce catch – limits that were unheard of 10 years ago.
After a freezing start to the day, plentiful sunshine and calm winds warmed daytime temperatures into the upper 60’s. Pros had their pick of techniques as everything from deep structure spots to flipping bushes worked up and down the lake.
Many pros said Travis is so full of fish they had to weed through dozens of small bass for any decent size. Interestingly, though, leaders noted they actually did not get many bites on the day, but the ones they did catch were of better quality.
Here’s a closer look at the second through fifth-place pros.
2. Stephen Patek – Garland, Texas – 20-5
Stephen Patek had never been to Lake Travis before, but that didn’t stop him from sacking up 20-pounds, 5-ounces, including a 7-pounder, to start the Travis FLW Tour event in second place.
Patek said he spent the first couple of practice days running the banks, but after feeding his baits to a myriad of non-keepers, he decided to get off the bank and graph around for the final practice day. Graphing offshore uncovered a hot spot for Patek, which produced the bulk of his catch.
“This group was set up just like I would find them on Lake Ray Roberts back home,” he says. “Once I started to get a feel for what to look for, I found another spot where I caught the big one. I really only have those two spots for offshore fishing. I can still run the bank and catch a bunch of smaller fish, but it seems like the quality fish are still offshore.”
3. Bradley Hallman – Norman, Okla. – 19-4
Bradley Hallman was born to flip bushes, but it’s been so long since he’s had the opportunity to do it in a Tour event, he was like a kid in candy store today amid Travis’ newly-flooded brush.
“Yeah, you guessed it,” Hallman says of his fishing today. “Flipping bushes was it for me – how could it not be? I felt right at home.”
Hallman adds that his bush flipping did not really develop until today.
“I had a horrible practice here,” he says. “And honestly, I just went fishing today. The place where I caught those fish today, I had never been to in my life. I actually stopped running to fish this morning because of a big fog bank and once it lifted a little bit, I looked across the river, saw some bushes that looked good, went in there and started flipping and I caught a 4-pounder right off the bat. But it wasn’t exactly fast and furious – it took me all day to catch those and I was in the last flight.”
4. Scott Suggs – Bryant, Ark. – 17-3
Scott Suggs may be on Lake Travis in Texas, but to him he’s on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and that familiarity helped him sack up 17-3 for fourth place.
“I’m just fishing Ozarks style here,” Suggs says. “I’m looking for a certain kind of rock, with a certain kind of slope at a certain depth. And I’m using Ozarks kinds of baits – drop-shots, swim jigs and football-head jigs.”
“This lake was so low for so long that when those trees grew up on the bottom, it created a kind of miniature Lake of the Ozarks,” he adds. “And that’s how I’m approaching this place.”
5. Chris Brasher – Longview, Texas – 16-8
Chris Brasher used a little bit of his historical knowledge of Travis today to start the event in fifth place.
Brasher attended Texas State University and guided on Travis during his college years. Though the lake has changed a lot, there are still some places he knows well.
“It’s got a lot more water and fish in it now,” Brasher says. “And the fish are so spread out. But there are still certain areas and stretches that are still tried and true and I caught some fish on that kind of stuff today. I still have a lot of it that I haven’t hit yet, but knowing what was there before the water came up certainly helps.”