Rayburn Top 5 Patterns Day 1 - Major League Fishing

Rayburn Top 5 Patterns Day 1

Sight-fishing, prespawn patterns lead the way
Image for Rayburn Top 5 Patterns Day 1
Sammy Burks Photo by Matt Pace. Angler: Sammy Burks.
February 23, 2017 • David A. Brown • Archives

Oklahoma pro Andrew Upshaw devoted his day to sight-fishing and took the early lead at the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by YETI at Sam Rayburn with a limit of bass that weighed 27 pounds, 1 ounce.

Using a Gene Larew Biffle Bug, Upshaw kept mobile and only stopped on big fish.

Here are the details of the rest of the top five.

Upshaw’s day one recap

Complete results


Jason Bonds

2nd Place Jason Bonds – Lufkin, Texas – 26 pounds, 8 ounces

Nabbing the day’s only double-digit bass — an even 10-pounder — helped propel Jason Bonds to second place with 26-8. Sight-fishing was his primary plan, but he also worked some prespawn action into his day.

Bonds withheld his bed-fishing baits, but he says he caught the big fish on his third stop of the morning. Bed-fishing success comes down to a specific technique point.

“There was no particular location or presentation; it was just knowing what to do,” he says. “It was about knowing where to put the bait in the bed.”

Spending about a quarter of his day looking for prespawners meant working the lake’s abundant hydrilla — a classic staging habitat with tremendous potential.

“They’re just hanging around a ditch. They’re just getting ready to move in and do their thing,” Bonds says. “More fish are moving in and more fish are getting on beds, so I have a little place I can do both tomorrow.”


Charley Slaton

3rd Place Charley Slaton – Valliant, Okla. – 25 pounds, 3 ounces

Not comfortable with the sight-fishing prospects and uncertain about how many fish would be staging shallow, Charley Slaton staked out an offshore hub that hosted a steady flow of prespawners and postspawners. His decision led to a third-place catch of 25 pounds, 3 ounces.

“I had one area with about five spots in the south end of the lake, and they were all within three miles of one another,” Slaton says. “I had a pretty good practice, so I just kept running the same spots, making big circles, and it just came together.”

His strategy is to locate fish with a Carolina rig and then concentrate his casts with a Strike King 6XD crankbait.


Billy Billeaud

4th Place Billy Billeaud – Lafayette, La. – 23 pounds, 15 ounces

A willingness to adjust paid off for Louisiana pro Billy Billeaud, who scrapped his first spot when the bite fell short of his expectations and then took a key cue from the back of the boat to rally and make the top five.

“I left my starting spot and went to an area with a little clearer water, and I expected to catch them pitching,” he says. “My co-angler [Jared Dean] caught three really quickly on a jerkbait, so I started throwing a swimbait, and they started eating that swimbait.

“In practice when I caught them in there they were in the bushes, but my co-angler caught three keepers away from the bank. After awhile I said enough is enough, and I threw out there, caught my best two fish and culled a couple of times.”

Billeaud spent most of his day near the Highway 147 Bridge. His better bites came in the afternoon.


Kris Wilson

5th place Kris Wilson – Montgomery, Texas – 23 pounds

Always a threat on Rayburn, Kris Wilson is also no stranger to sight-fishing. Today, however, he made the decision to sight-fish because circumstances left him with no other options.

“I was catching some staging fish, and I had some fish on beds, but the staging fish completely vanished, so all my fish came off beds,” he says. “I think it’s gotten so warm that they’re all moving up to the beds.”

Wilson had one main area with seven bed fish. Fishing a Strike King Rage Tail DB Structure Bug, he caught every one he saw.

Wilson’s top sight-fishing tip: “I think the placement of your boat is a big deal. I fished for one for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then I moved my boat about 10 feet and caught the fish in two flips.”


Top 10 Pros

1. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 27-1 (5)

2. Jason Bonds – Lufkin, Texas – 26-8 (5)

3. Charley Slaton – Valliant, Okla. – 25-3 (5)

4. Billy Billeaud – Lafayette, La. – 23-15 (5)

5. Kris Wilson – Montgomery, Texas – 23-0 (5)

6. Russell Cecil – Willis, Texas – 21-10 (5)

7. Trevor Stevenson – Fridley, Minn. – 21-5 (5)

8. Jeff Reynolds – Calera, Okla. – 21-4 (5)

9. Zack Birge – Blanchard, Okla. – 20-15 (5)

10. Todd Castledine – Nacogdoches, Texas – 20-3 (5)

Complete results