Not even a dampening tumble could prevent Jason Bonds from taking over the lead on day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division opener presented by YETI on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The pro from Lufkin, Texas, went for an unexpected swim, but still managed to catch a key fish that contributed to a limit catch of 18 pounds, 8 ounces and a two-day total of 45-0.
“I had been sitting on a 4-pound (bed fish) for about 20 minutes but I could never get her to commit to doing anything,” Bonds recalls. “I went to stand on my trolling motor and I lost my footing and went in over my head — my co-angler couldn’t see anything but the rod tip!”
Such an intrusion would surely send a bed fish running, right? Wrong.
“I climbed back into the boat and within two minutes, I caught her.”
That 4-pounder was one of Bonds’ largest fish, all of which he caught off beds. Notably, Bonds entered day two intending to sight fish, but this game was slow to start.
“This morning, I want to a 5- to 6-pounder that I saw yesterday, but she never got right,” Bonds says. “She wasn’t there today, so I went to some prespawn stuff and caught a couple of small keepers.
“After that I went sight-fishing and by noon I was starting to spin out because I didn’t have much. But I caught a 3 1/2-pounder, went 150 yards and caught a 4-pounder, went another 25 yards and caught another 4-pounder, then caught another 4-pounder.”
Moving up from second place on day one, Bonds caught all of his fish on a Strike King Structure Bug rigged on a 5/0 hook with a 1/4-ounce weight. He caught his fish in a mix of grass and brush.
“There are certain areas that are better; it’s just whatever area that a group of fish decide push up into during a couple of days,” Bonds continues. “You just have to run into them.
“It’s still kind of early for the spawn on Rayburn. In a few weeks, you’ll have that big wave push up.”
Bonds found new fish today and saved them for day three, but his optimism is tempered by the approaching cold front that’s supposed to drop daytime temperatures into the low 60’s – a stark contrast compared to the low 80’s of today. Big winds were ripping across Rayburn by sunset and that could muddy up some of the sight-fishing areas.
“I have a lot of areas that I’ve been holding for the third day and hopefully I can get some of those fish to bite,” Bonds says.
Top 10 pros:
1. Jason Bonds – Lufkin, Texas – 45-0 (10)
2. Andrew Upshaw – Tulsa, Okla. – 42-8 (10)
3. Casey Sobczak – Willis, Texas – 42-3 (10)
4. Jeff Reynolds – Calera, Okla. – 41-13 (10)
5. Tommy Martin – Hemphill, Texas – 41-2 (10)
6. Ken Smith – Dallas, Texas – 40-15 (10)
7. Kris Wilson – Montgomery, Texas – 40-12 (10)
8. Ray Hanselman – Del Rio, Texas – 40-8 (10)
9. Todd Castledine – Nacogdoches, Texas – 39-11 (10)
10. Billy Billeaud – Lafayette, La. – 38-13 (10)
Downey grinds the grass for co-angler lead
Improving from eighth place on day one, Mat Downey of Kountze, Texas, sacked up 19-15 today and took over the co-angler lead with a two-day total of 36-7. For him, the formula was simple – stay in the grass.
“Shallow hydrilla in 3 to 8 feet was the key,” Downey explains. “Usually, this time of year, I like catching them in the hay grass, but I couldn’t catch them there. I think the hydrilla is coming back and that’s why the fish weren’t in the hay grass.”
Downey caught his fish on reaction baits. He noted that his bite was slow to begin and 11 a.m. found him without his first keeper.
“I think that water warmed up and it was just a late day bite,” Downey says. “Thank God for a five o’clock weigh-in. Once they started, it was pretty sporadic; they were everywhere.”
Top 10 co-anglers:
1. Mat Downey – Kountze, Texas – 36-7 (10)
2. Andrew Brandstrom – White Bear Lake, Minn. – 35-15 (10)
3. Bud Pruitt – Houston, Texas – 35-8 (10)
4. David Kayda – Huffman, Texas – 35-1 (10)
5. Craig Strickland – Lumberton, Texas – 33-12 (10)
6. Antwon Harris – Deridder, La. – 33-7 (10)
7. Jeff Cade – Richardson, Texas – 31-8 (10)
8. Michael D. Greer, Jr. – Deridder, La. – 30-0 (10)
9. Jim Zaleski – Parsons, Ks. – 29-7 (10)
10. Michael Allbright – Athens, Texas – 29-6 (10)
Format: All 206 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.
Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m.
Takeoff Location: Umphrey Family Pavilion, 5438 RR 255, Brookeland TX 75931
Weigh-In Time: Days 1, 2 and 3 at 3 p.m.
Weigh-In Location: Umphrey Family Pavilion