Lots of variables in play as Southwestern Division wraps at Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula - Major League Fishing

Lots of variables in play as Southwestern Division wraps at Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula

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Welcome back to Eufaula, the big bass capital of Oklahoma. Photo by Jody White.
May 16, 2024 • Jody White • Toyota Series

EUFAULA, Okla. – After two great events on legendary east Texas fisheries, the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division heads to Lake Eufaula for the season finale. After the recent Bass Pro Tour event with high water, fans of fishing will see markedly different conditions this week. Now, the water has dropped out a lot, nearing normal pool, and the stage of everything in the lake has advanced a bit.

In addition to the results for this week, pros and Strike King co-anglers also have points on the brain. With the conclusion of the Southwestern Division season, the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year will be decided and the Top 25 in the points will qualify for the Toyota Series Championship.

Kollin Crawford plans to fish water so muddy “you can see coon tracks across the top of it.” Photo by Jody White.

Shallow tournament likely in the works

With plenty of mud still in the lake and the water having just begun to maybe stabilize, fishing reports and predictions are all over the place. Some pros seem to be on pretty good fish. Some are worried about catching anything. Everyone is fishing in the clean water. Maybe they’re biting in the dirty water. Some bass are prespawn. Most of the bass are postspawn. The shad spawn is almost over. The shad are spawning all day.

You know, maybe we’ll figure this out by Saturday.

“Fishing is kind of tough right now, I think on account of the water dropping,” said Jeff Reynolds. “It’s still dropping, and I think the fish haven’t got used to it yet. I know some guys are probably catching them, but it’s been really tough on me.

“There’s still a shad spawn going on — I assume it is the tail end, but it’s not everywhere,” added Reynolds. “When you do get around it, you can catch some fish. But, other than that, they’re really acting weird.”

Local Kollin Crawford has a similarly mixed report.

“This place is all over the place right now,” said the young Okie. “It’s been pretty tough – I’m not getting a whole lot of bites, but when I get a bite it’s a good one. And 90 percent of the lake is chocolate milk, red mud. It’s dirty.”

One thing everyone agrees on is that shallow is probably the way to go in this one. While it may not be flipping and frogging, it sounds like fishing more than a cast from the bank isn’t in many game plans this week.

“I think people that really catch them are going to be the guys that bounce around a lot and junk fish,” said Crawford. “I’ve got some really good offshore stuff here, and they ain’t there yet. It’s not late enough yet. About three weeks from now, the offshore bite should start coming around.”

“You’re gonna see a lot of spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits, a jig or something,” said Reynolds. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything real deep. It’s an Oklahoma lake – there’s fish that live shallow year-round.”

Cole Moore has run into some solid fish in practice. Photo by Jody White.

What wins it?

As far as a winning weight goes, estimates seem to vary quite a bit, with some real optimists and some real downers.

Cole Moore, the AOY leader, thinks that it will take 14 pounds a day to make the Top 25 and over 60 pounds to win.

Reynolds is on the opposite end of that.

“I would be beside myself with 15 pounds,” he said. “That’s the deal, what can you do consistently? Can you catch 17 or 18 and ride that through? I guess somebody could catch 20 pounds per day, but I’d be shocked to see that.”

Crawford is more optimistic – he reckons 18 pounds a day wins. And, interestingly, he thinks that folks can excel in the mud.

“I personally think it will be won out of dirty water,” he said. “The water I’m going to be fishing, you can see coon tracks across the top of it.”