Reynolds extends lead on Toledo Bend - Major League Fishing

Reynolds extends lead on Toledo Bend

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Tater Reynolds extended his lead to more than 10 pounds entering the third and final day on Toledo Bend. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Tater Reynolds.
March 27, 2024 • Mitchell Forde • Toyota Series

MANY, La. — The good news for the Southwestern Division pros in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats was that Toledo Bend fished more like the bass factory it’s known as on Wednesday after a challenging Day 1.  

The bad news for everyone trying to catch Tater Reynolds was that the local hammer once again led the charge, weighing in the biggest bag for the second day in a row. 

A day after bringing 28 pounds, 15 ounces to the scale, Reynolds backed it up with a five-bass limit weighing 24-7. That pushed his two-day total to 53-6, extending his lead over second-place pro Cole Moore to more than 10 pounds. 

Meanwhile, in the Strike King co-angler competition, Luke Wyle took over the top spot with 11-13. His 22-6 total will give him a 14-ounce advantage over Robert Davis entering the final day. 

Persistence pays off for Reynolds

While the results might suggest Reynolds has been reeling in Toledo Bend tanks at will, the Florien, Louisiana, native found the fishing a bit more challenging than he expected on Day 2.

Reynolds was excited to take advantage of the morning bite on the postspawn staging areas where he’s targeting his fish since takeoff was delayed by an hour due to wind on Tuesday. But his starting spot Wednesday morning — where he’d caught an 8-pounder and a 5-pounder a day prior — didn’t produce a keeper.

“I rolled up there this morning, and they’re there,” Reynolds said. “I think I had one bite, and she didn’t get it, and that was it. They’re there, but I threw everything I could at ‘em, and they wouldn’t bite.”

After about an hour, Reynolds moved to a new location, where he caught a pair of keepers. Finally, he decided to run to a spot he’d been saving. It paid off with a 5-pounder and his biggest fish of the day, which weighed nearly 8 pounds. In all, he only caught seven keepers all day, but the quality more than made up for the lack of quantity.

“I feel like that’s really my best spot,” Reynolds said. “That’s the spot I’ve been saving. I haven’t been hitting it early. The only reason I went to it today is because the other two, fish are there, but they’re just not cooperating.”

Tater Reynolds is living up to his reputation as one of the best locals on Toledo Bend. Photo by Jody White

A forward-facing sonar guru, Reynolds’ boat is decked out with four Garmin LiveScope transducers — two on the bow and two in the rear. In a unique wrinkle, he uses LVS34 transducers for Perspective Mode, which he utilizes like traditional DownScan to identify cover and fish relating to the bottom, where most of his bass have been this week. He uses an LVS32 for Forward Mode, saying he finds himself better able to gauge fish size with the older model.

“I learned ‘Scoping with a 32, and I feel like I can tell the size better,” he said. “Like I went up to a 34, of course, I went with two 34s, but generally when I’m ‘Scoping, I can tell you within about a pound, pound and a half how big that fish is before I catch him, whereas when I went with a 34, I couldn’t be as precise, couldn’t be as consistent on guessing.”

While it’s obviously an important part of his approach, Reynolds isn’t using LiveScope to target individual, suspended fish. Instead, he’s rotating between a handful of staple bottom-contact baits until one of them produces a strike.

“It was just a persistence deal,” he said. “I have a rotation of about four or five baits, between crankbaits, dragging baits, big worms, stuff like that. I’d just have to throw one 10 or 15 casts, pick up another one, throw it for 10 or 15 casts, and then eventually you’d reel something by them that made them fire.”

Reynolds plans to return to his best spot to start Championship Day. While he hopes the fish will be more willing to bite, he thinks he could scrounge up 15 or so pounds by ‘Scoping for suspended fish if his offshore program falters.

Given his cushion over the rest of the field, doing so would make it difficult for any of Reynolds’ pursuers to wrestle away his first Toyota Series win. While Reynolds tasted plenty of local tournament success through the years, including three Phoenix Bass Fishing League wins, he said topping this field would be particularly meaningful.

“Man, it would mean a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve been fishing tournaments a long time, but as far as MLF, being by myself, I had two career wins my second season. … And I guess they didn’t hit me as hard as they do now. Like, I don’t really want to say it felt easier or felt like it was easy, but knowing how hard it is now — I mean, a Toyota win in general would be good, but to me now, winning an MLF event period would be really good.” 

AOY chase tightly bunched at the top

Colby Miller, who won the first Southwestern Division event of the season on Sam Rayburn, pulled off a major rally at Toledo Bend on Day 2. A day after weighing just 10-1, Miller doubled that with a 20-2 limit on Wednesday. As a result, he jumped up to 24th place, sneaking inside the Top 25 cut line to fish Day 3. 

Miller now has a shot at defending his lead in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year race if he can once again climb the standings. For the moment, however, Moore has moved into the virtual points lead, followed by Reynolds and Alec Morrison. Miller currently sits fourth.  

Those four anglers are among a group of nine who made the cut at Toledo Bend after also finishing inside the Top 25 at Sam Rayburn. All nine could theoretically ascend to the top of the AOY standings by the end of the event, which should make for plenty of drama when the Southwestern Division wraps up its season on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula in May. 

Top 10 pros

  1. Tater Reynolds 53-5 (10)
  2. Cole Moore 42-10 (10)
  3. Zane Parker 41-6 (10)
  4. Alec Morrison 38-7 (10)
  5. Marshall Hughes 38-3 (10)
  6. Benji Gulett 38-0 (10)
  7. Tommy Dickerson 37-8 (10)
  8. Dillon Harrell: 36-11 (10)
  9. Richard Madole 35-6 (10)
  10. Andrew McClusky 34-11 (9)
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