Miller narrowly ahead with 27-4 at Rayburn - Major League Fishing

Miller narrowly ahead with 27-4 at Rayburn

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February 21, 2024 • Jody White • Toyota Series

BROOKELAND, Texas – Day 1 of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn was a certified smashfest. Colby Miller dropped 27 pounds, 4 ounces to claim the lead. Right behind him, River Lee sacked up 27-2, and Wyatt Frankens brought 26-14 to the scale. In all, eleven different pros weighed over 20 pounds on Day 1, which should make the next two days very compelling.

This event is presented by FX Custom Rods and hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce.

Miller goes deep and shallow

Hiking up the hill at Rayburn with a big bag was an ideal outcome for Colby Miller on Day 1. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Fresh off a check in the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event and a Phoenix Bass Fishing League win earlier in the season, young Miller is on a bit of a roll. From the sounds of it, he tapped into a wide variety of his Rayburn knowledge on Day 1.

“I started shallow in some grass and caught a quick limit with a 6-pounder,” he said. “Then, I ran to a deep spot and caught a 7. Then I went to a spot where I thought I had some giants located, but they were not there. Then, I ran back to the deep spot, caught a 4-pounder and left. Then, I’d marked one that was sitting on a tree, suspended, in practice, that I thought was a 4-pounder. I pulled up, made one cast, caught it, and it was a 6-pounder.”

Notably, he isn’t letting the dirty water phase him.

“It’s dirtier water for sure,” he said. “But, it’s pretty much the same stuff. It’s just putting the bait in front of the right one.”

Because he’s doing several things, there’s definitely some uncertainty going forward.

“It was pretty much a milk run,” he said. “I don’t know what tomorrow brings; I think I’m around some big ones, but I’m not sure what to expect. I could go out tomorrow and catch 30 pounds or go out there and catch 10 pounds.”

One wild card could be his grass bite, which he thinks could be good if he can get some alone time.

“I think it is a one-cast deal,” he explained. “There were boats around, and I was trolling around and made it look like I was fishing the area. I think it has potential – hopefully, there is nobody around tomorrow.”

New water has Lee looking good

One of many locals cooking early, River Lee is not fishing where he expected to be. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

A really bad practice had Lee singing the blues, but he ended up finding a pretty good clue late in the day on Tuesday. On Day 1, that turned into an upper-20s sack.

“Practice was miserably tough for me. I found three schools but only counted one of them because the other two schools were just small fish,” he said. “I found one in the afternoon yesterday. I pulled up, caught a 2-pounder, and then jumped a 5-pounder off, and I left. I started there and caught an 8-pounder and had 18-something when I left there.”

Then, cranking one of his “small” schools, he caught a 7-pounder.

“I went and did some random stuff, tried to ‘Scope, and then I graphed over a spot I had marked that set up similar to the other ones,” he said. “I threw a big jig and caught a 5 ½, and that gave me what I had, and I weighed a 2-pounder.”

Between the end of practice and weigh-in, Lee thinks he may have solidified a game plan going forward.

“I’m fishing an area where I’ve never caught fish, as much as I’ve fished this lake,” he said. “I struggled so bad in practice on the part of the lake I normally stay in, I decided to go to the other end. I went shallow and deep, shallow and deep, and I just found those couple places. I wasn’t committed after practice; I went out today with 15 rods on deck. But, they’re staging spots, and I think with this warm weather I might have some fish coming to me.”

Grass and offshore both pay out for Frankens

Wyatt Frankens ran a varied game plan on Day 1. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

All three of the top pros are under 30 (welcome to 2024), but they all have deep experience on Rayburn. Last year, Frankens came close to winning the first Southwestern Division event on Big Sam, when he dropped 28 pounds on Day 2.

Today, things went well, and they maybe could have gone even better.

“I knew I had a shot at a big bag coming into it,” said Frankens. “This event last year, I narrowly lost to Dakota [Ebare]. It’s a little bit different time of the year, but I really wanted to put my time in for this one. I found a few groups of fish offshore that I knew had the potential, and it kind of worked out. But, it’s going to sound odd saying this, I didn’t have a big one. My biggest one was 6 pounds, and I really thought if I had a bag like that, I would have one over 7 or 8.”

Like Miller, Frankens is bouncing between offshore and shallow.

“I’ve got a little one-two punch going, with some grass fish as well,” he added. “I was going to wait until later in the day today, let the water get a little warmer, and try to go chase the wind around my grass. I went down the first stretch of grass and caught my biggest fish. So, I weighed my smallest fish, and it was 4 pounds, and I was thinking ‘I’ve got a lot of grass left to hit, and I can only hurt myself.’”

With a seemingly solid offshore gameplan, and possibly a lot of grass to tap into as well, Frankens is looking dangerous, despite needing to adjust to escape the dirty water.

“I’m used to fishing a certain area of the lake, but it’s a little blown out,” he said. “For that reason, I’ve had to put in the time in some new areas. Thankfully, I found some of the right stuff in the new areas, and I like what I see shallow a lot. I went down that first stretch and caught a 6-pounder, so there’s potential there, I hope that can get me through two windy days.”

Top 10 pros

1. Colby Miller – 27 – 4 (5)       

2. River Lee – 27 – 2 (5)             

3. Wyatt Frankens – 26 – 14 (5)               

4. Wesley Baxley – 23 – 15 (5) 

5. Blake Schroeder – 22 – 14 (5)             

6. Cole Moore – 22 – 2 (5)        

6. Levi Thibodaux – 22 – 2 (5)                

8. Riley Harris – 21 – 10 (5)        

9. Kaden Mueck – 21 – 4 (5)   

10. Spike Stoker – 21 – 1 (5)  

Complete results