Reynolds completes wire-to-wire rout on Toledo Bend - Major League Fishing

Reynolds completes wire-to-wire rout on Toledo Bend

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Tater Reynolds won Toledo Bend with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 83 pounds, 4 ounces. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Tater Reynolds.
March 28, 2024 • Mitchell Forde • Toyota Series

MANY, La. — In the days leading up to the Southwestern Division stop on Toledo Bend, Tater Reynolds had a pretty good feeling about his chances of winning his first Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats trophy. On Sunday, the Florien, Louisiana, native proclaimed that it would take between 80 and 90 pounds to win the three-day event and that he liked his chances of getting there.

Reynolds made good on his prediction, bagging nearly 30 pounds (29-15) on Day 3 to bring his total to 83-4. What he didn’t envision was how far ahead that would place him from the rest of the 114-boat field. 

Reynolds topped runner-up Cole Moore by 21-10, which is the second-largest margin of victory in Toyota Series history, trailing only Alec Morrison’s 24-pound romp on Sam Rayburn last May. Interestingly, Reynolds finished second to Morrison in that event, while Morrison finished third this week.

For the win, Reynolds earned $32,539 and a spot in the Toyota Series Championship, which will be contested on Wheeler Lake in November.

An exclamation point on an emphatic win

A spot Reynolds had been saving produced in a big way for him on Day 3. Photo by Jody White

During a week in which falling water temperatures resulted in a tricky bite on Toledo Bend, Reynolds made the fishing look easy. He led by more than 5 pounds after sacking up 28-15 on Day 1, then added 24-6 on Day 2, which extended his lead into the double digits. 

Thursday, he started on a spot that he’d largely been saving, aside from catching two keepers there the day prior. He quickly boated a 5-pounder, then his biggest bass of the day, an 8-7. Those two fish would have been more than enough to earn the trophy.

“I had been saving that one,” Reynolds said of the spot, a point near the main lake where bass were ending their postspawn journeys. “Every day I could save it, them fish that were coming out of the creek, they were steadily loading up on that spot. The more days I could leave it be, the better.”

From there, Reynolds ran to another staging area and caught two more in the 5-pound range. With the morning bite fading, he switched gears to targeting individual fish using Garmin LiveScope. Around 12:40 p.m., when he caught a 6-pounder on an Alabama rig, he admitted to himself that his lead was safe. He strapped down his rods and spent the rest of the afternoon around the bank, trying to help his co-angler catch a limit.

“It was a good feeling,” Reynolds said. “I got that one in the boat, and I was like, ‘Thank you, Lord. That’s it. That’s sealed up, right there.’”

Reynolds’ final-day total marked the biggest bag of the event. He accounted for three of the four largest limits.

In the end, the only real drama was whether or not he would break Morrison’s record for margin of victory. Reynolds admitted that the thought crossed his mind, and he believes he likely would have done so had he fished a bit cleaner. In the minutes after hoisting the trophy, he half-jokingly kicked himself over missed fish, particularly three big ones that he hooked and lost on Day 1.

“I think if I would have just caught one of them big ones the first day that I lost — because I actually had them hooked up, they just pulled off,” Reynolds said. “If I just would have had one of them three, I probably would have broken the record.”

Local expertise pays off

Reynolds capped off the three-day event with a five-bass limit weighing 29 pounds, 15 ounces. Photo by Jody White

Between guiding for crappie and fishing local tournaments on the lake, Reynolds spends more time on Toledo Bend than just about anyone. He also won a Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on the Louisiana-Texas border reservoir earlier this month.

His understanding of what the bass were up to played a pivotal role this week. Reynolds firmly believes that about 80% of Toledo Bend’s bass have already spawned, while most anglers targeted fish in and around spawning areas. However, his winning spots were nothing sneaky.

Reynolds started practice looking for fish relating to timber or creek channels near spawning areas. When he struck out there, he tried classic summertime haunts. After coming up empty, the process of elimination led him to check secondary points near the main lake — classic staging spots.

“They either stage on points, stage on timber coming out of the creek, or they’re just going to leave,” Reynolds said. “I ‘Scoped the open stuff, the obvious stuff — the timber, the creek channels. They wasn’t there. So, I was like, well, I know they’re not back there spawning, because I’d say 80% of them done spawned. So, I know they’re not back there spawning, they’ve got to be traveling. And I checked the main lake, the summer stuff, and they weren’t quite there yet, either. So, I was like, man, they’ve got to be on the points, secondary points coming out of pockets.”

Finding the bass feeding most actively in the mornings, Reynolds primarily caught them using crankbaits. In the 10- to 15-foot range, he used a 6th Sense Crush 300DD on 15-pound Strike King Tour Grade Fluorocarbon. The spot where he started Day 3 was a bit deeper, about 20 feet, and closer to the main lake. There, he turned to the 6th Sense Cloud 9 C25, which he tied to 17-pound fluorocarbon. 

When bass stopped responding to the crankbait, Reynolds switched to a few different dragging presentations. His main offering was a 6th Sense Divine Magnum Shakey Worm, which he affixed to a 1/2-ounce shaky head.

While Reynolds has established himself as one of the best local anglers in an area full of hammers, he doesn’t see himself touring nationally unless he comes across a major influx of cash (like, say, winning the $200,000 first-place prize at the Toyota Series Championship). 

After all, there’s plenty of high-level fishing in Southeast Texas and Louisiana to keep him occupied. Plus, he enjoys fishing in front of family and friends, which gathered en masse to witness his coronation at Thursday’s weigh-in. Reynolds said their support “means the world to me” and made his first multi-day tournament win as a pro even sweeter.

“I hope it doesn’t take too long before I win another one, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything right now,” he said. “The feeling doesn’t feel like it can get any better.”

A wide open AOY race

Moore couldn’t quite capture the first win that has narrowly eluded him — he’s now logged 10 Top 10s as a pro — but he did boost himself to the top of the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year standings in the Southwestern Division. Moore, who finished fourth at Sam Rayburn last month, has amassed 516 points, which leads both Morrison and Jaden Parrish by 10 points with one event to fish.

Morrison said he doesn’t plan to fish the final Southwestern Division event, which will be held on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula in May. But Parrish will be one of several anglers with a shot at overtaking Moore and earning the $5,000 AOY award. Reynolds (502 points), Levi Thibodaux (501) and Sam Rayburn champion Colby Miller (497) all lurk within 20 points of Moore’s total.

Top 10 pros:

  1. Tater Reynolds – 83-4 (15) – $32,539
  2. Cole Moore – 61-10 (15) – $13,493 (includes $1,000 Phoenix Bonus)
  3. Alec Morrison – 61-1 (15) – $9,672
  4. Jaden Parrish – 56-13 (15) – $8,060
  5. Todd Castledine – 56-12 (15) – $7,254
  6. Marshall Hughes – 55-11 (15) – $6,448
  7. Dylan Thompson – 53-15 (15) – $5,642
  8. Zane Parker – 53-14 (15) – $4,836
  9. Richard Madole – 50-14 (15) – $4,030
  10. Russell Cecil – 50-11 (13) – $3,724
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