Ebare blasts 32-2 on Sam Rayburn to earn long-awaited win at Toyota Series season opener - Major League Fishing

Ebare blasts 32-2 on Sam Rayburn to earn long-awaited win at Toyota Series season opener

Image for Ebare blasts 32-2 on Sam Rayburn to earn long-awaited win at Toyota Series season opener
January 27, 2023 • Jody White • Toyota Series

BROOKELAND, Texas – Dakota Ebare has banked a pile of close finishes in his young career, coming short by ounces with an astonishing frequency. Despite fishing more events than basically anyone in the game, the time was seemingly never right for the Texas pro. Until today, that is.

Weighing an impressive 32 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day, Ebare won the season opener of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division on Sam Rayburn. On Friday, Ebare rose from a tie for seventh to the win with a two-day total of 48-10, and took home $80,500.

Ebare has chased a career in fishing harder than anyone, and it all started at Sam Rayburn.

“I moved here right out of college,” said Ebare, who is originally from Louisiana. “I took my last classes online. The first two tournaments I ever fished here were BFLs – I finished 166th and 105th, and I remember those very vividly. I started figuring it out a little, I did pretty well in some college events, but it took me a couple of years before I started catching good bags and actually winning local tournaments.

“This place is very volatile, it’s always changing, but it’s helped me tremendously traveling across the county. They’re always on the move here; you get so much pressure, sometimes the lake is high, sometimes it has grass, sometimes it doesn’t. So, this lake is great – if a guy wants to try to make a livin’ fishin’, this is the place to be. That’s why I moved here in 2017, and I call it home now. It’s been great.”

Sam Rayburn – plus more Toyota Series experience than seems physically possible – has put Ebare in great position. After a debut season on the Bass Pro Tour filled with high points, he enters the 2023 season with new sponsor deals and a lock on a career as a pro angler.

“I don’t take any of that stuff for granted,” Ebare said. “I’m going to keep working, and going from daylight to dark to do so, because I want to get better. Today, I felt like I got a little bit better and that was a step forward. I hope it allows me to trust myself more, and not be worried about getting that win, just to get one. Because when a guy finishes second and third that many times, it does take a toll on you.”

Ebare believes that today was his time, but he never thought it was while he was on the water.

“There was never a point today I was comfortable,” he said, despite having more than 25 pounds by mid-morning. “I had a feeling it was going to take a lot of weight to win this tournament. Hats off to Wyatt Frankens, 47 pounds in two days is amazing. My heart sank when I got off the boat, I didn’t weigh those big fish, and I knew I didn’t have that. I didn’t think I had that much, I really thought I had high 20s and didn’t have enough to win. 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, I wasn’t going to settle, I wasn’t going to stop until it was time to go in.”

Of course, it was his time.

“I really do have faith that it’s all in God’s time, that’s very important to me,” Ebare said. “That faith is what has got me here. The faith I had to take the chance to do this for a living. I truly believe He’s allowed me to do this. I believe that everything happens in due time, and it was finally my time, and I’m very thankful for it.”

Rayburn standards lead the way

Though Ebare surely has some tricks up his sleeve considering the hours he’s logged on the water over the last few years, he didn’t necessarily break new ground on Sam Rayburn. His baits were pretty simple: 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. And, he was fishing for big winter and prespawn fish in about 15 feet.

That said, he was about as dialed in as he’s ever been on Big Sam.

“My mom came down on Monday, the weather was really nice, and that was really the only day I got to practice, because I had some other obligations and things I had to do,” he said. “So, Monday was really my only day; it was calm and I got to look around, and I found three or four groups of big prespawn females where I thought I could catch some big ones.

“You’ll never hear me say I’m on ‘em after practice, because it changes, And, I don’t go into practice needing to have a bunch of spots all figured out, I mainly just want a pattern. And really, that’s truly what I ran. I figured out where those bigger females were hanging out, and I figured out what to look for. Most of my weight came off a couple spots, but in general, I think I could have ran some other spots and caught big ones, too. And, that’s the first time I’ve really been able to pattern this lake.”

Day 1 went sideways for Ebare, but he salvaged it with 16-6 and a kicker to keep himself within range of the win.

“The wind was gassin’,” he said. “Yesterday, it really made it hard to set up. But, I was really disappointed, because I could have caught 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 really had a chance to have a giant bag, and was pretty disappointed that I didn’t.”

On Day 2, it all went right, and Ebare was culling big fish early. But the fact that he’s still thinking about Day 1 is what keeps his competition on notice.

“Looking back, today I caught a couple on a football jig,” Ebare said. “If I’d have picked up that football jig yesterday, it might have got real stupid. Because of the way it was windy and how they were set up – I threw a Carolina rig some, 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.”

Top 10 pros

1. Dakota Ebare – 48 – 10 (10) – $80,500 (includes $35,000 Phoenix Bonus)

2. Wyatt Frankens – 47 – 05 (10) – $17,000

3. Tater Reynolds – 42 – 09 (10) – $12,750

4. Jason Bonds – 35 – 14 (7) – $10,750

5. Marshall Hughes – 34 – 10 (10) – $10,250

6. River Lee – 32 – 02 (10) – $8,875

7. Tyler Stewart – 31 – 07 (10) – $7,300

8. Cole Moore – 30 – 14 (10) – $6,300

9. Harold Moore – 29 – 07 (9) – $5,300

10. Garrett Hilton – 29 – 02 (10) – $4,200

Complete results

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