Homecoming week at Rayburn

Homecoming week at Rayburn

I grew up in Central Texas, and while we had some decent lakes nearby, none compared to the mythical Sam Rayburn in far East Texas. I fished there for the first time when I was 14 years old and that just lit a fire under me. After that I followed all of the Rayburn tournament results, along with the careers of the top anglers on the lake, and that’s what inspired me to move to the area six years ago. Now I’m headed out on the lake for the first time in Bassmaster Elite Series competition.

Just as it was when I was a teenager, today Rayburn remains the most popular tournament lake in Texas, and the largest lake wholly within the state. Notice that I didn’t say it’s the best lake in the state at all times, but I believe that it is right now. I won’t be surprised if it takes more than 90 pounds to win.

Why is it so good right now? I believe that it’s because of the water levels in recent years. After several seasons of low water, we’ve had two consecutive years when the water was far up into the brush during the spawn and then into the summer. When the water is 6 or 8 feet up into the bushes, you simply can’t access a large portion of the lake. As a result, while we were held at bay on the outside of the brush line, the fish experienced a couple of great spawns and then were able to grow and eat without any pressure. It wasn’t just the bass – the baitfish also flourished, as did the populations of other fish like crappie.

I’m excited for this event not only because I feel that the fishery is in exceptional health, but also because I feel that Rayburn is just about the perfect tournament lake. It’s a big playing field, but unlike some other big lakes it won’t fish small. There will be fish caught dirt shallow out to 35 feet deep, and everywhere in between. They’ll be in all of the river arms as well as in the main lake and down by the dam. Quality bass will be caught on spoons and topwaters and frogs and crankbaits…just about any lure you have in your tackle box.

The beauty of Rayburn is that it changes every year. I remember when I first started visiting the lake there was so much vegetation in some places that it looked like a golf course, but the location of the best grass would change from year to year as a result of the fluctuating water levels. If the Elite Series were to schedule tournaments here in mid-May for the next five years, it might never look the same as it does now.

I know that some of my predictions have been off so far this year on what it would take to win at places like Conroe and Toledo Bend, but I really have a good feeling about this one. I was happy to see it when they announced the schedule and I still expect that it will produce our biggest weights of the season.

In a team tournament earlier this year there were three bags over 30 pounds and 60 over 20 pounds. We might not see those kinds of weights all the way down the line this week, but it’s a possibility. Knowing that’s possible, it’s hard to script a better tournament than that.

read more

First Annual Keith Combs Sam Rayburn Slam: October 29, 2016

First Annual Keith Combs Sam Rayburn Slam: October 29, 2016

First Annual Keith Combs Sam Rayburn Slam

14883488_1314723458572958_3593208082362058462_oOn October 29, 2016, the first annual Keith Combs Sam Rayburn Slam was held out of Cassel Boykin park
at Lake Sam Rayburn. 160 teams were greeted with great conditions; sunny skies and light north winds
with morning temps in the low 60s and afternoon temps climbing to the mid-80s. The fishing on Sam
Rayburn did not disappoint with most teams bringing in a 5-bass limit and some teams reporting catches upwards of 50 bass on the day. In the end, the team of Jerry Hayes and Scott Hassl would claim top honors with a limit of fish weighing 25.18 earning a check for $10,000. They reported catching their winning stringer off one deep water spot they found during practice. The team of Mark Richards and Doug Lehman finished a close 2 nd with 25.05 earning a check for $4,500. James Nitschke and Jason Bonds rounded out the top three with 24.95 which earned them $3,000, and Clint Wade and Stacy Spriggs finished fourth with 24.35, earning them $2,000.

The Sam Rayburn Slam also included a youth and college division. Taking the top spot in the youth division was the team of Shawn Ramsey and Coby Ramsey with a weight of 23.54 which was also good enough for a 6 th place showing overall, earning the team $1,850 in cash and $1,000 in merchandise from Pipe and Steel Industrial, Minn Kota, Humminbird, and Power Tackle. Zach Sonnier and Jordan Wood claimed top honors in the college division with 5 fish for 17.85 earning a check for $1,500 from Pipe and Steel Industrial and $500 in merchandise from Minn Kota.14918919_1314725055239465_405489380935880196_o

Cody Miller and Jerry Finley would claim overall big bass with an 8.97, earning them $500 dollars in
merchandise from Tackle Addict. The overall payout on 160 teams was at 126%.The main objective of the Sam Rayburn Slam is to raise funds for Warriors Weekend, a Texas-based non-profit organization dedicated to support of veterans of The United States of America with an emphasis on those wounded in The Global War on Terrorism. Warriors Weekend gives our heroes a chance to enjoy fishing and the outdoors through an annual fishing tournament held in Port O’Conner, TX. In conjunction with the Sam Rayburn Slam, a silent auction and raffle were held to support the cause.

To date the event has raised over $16,000 to support Warriors weekend.This year’s event would have not been made possible without the support of the following sponsors: Tackle Addict, Strike King Lure Company, Biobor, Humminbird, Minn Kota, LakeMaster, Loving Toyota, Power Tackle, Inc. Seaguar Fluorocarbon, Shimano, Yamaha Outboards, Owner Hooks, Basscashbash, Pro Angler Hub, Sack Caddy Fishing, Pipe & Steel Industrial Fabricators, SETX High School Fishing Assn., BLV Enterprises, Pope’s Landing, KV Power.

To learn more about the Keith Combs Sam Rayburn Slam, check out Keith Combs’ Facebook