Louisiana lake named top bass fishing destination for a second year in a row
For the second year in a row, Bassmaster Magazine named Toledo Bend Reservoir the "Best Bass Lake" in the nation. In the history of rankings, this is the first time a fishery has held the number one spot for more than one year.
Since 2012, the magazine has published the annual 100 best bass lakes in the country, and Toledo Bend has placed within the top 15 every year.
Four months of research went into the ranking, including information from state fisheries departments, B.A.S.S. Nation directors, Elite Series pros, the 3,500-member B.A.S.S. Council and B.A.S.S. Facebook fans. Plus reams of catch data from more than a dozen tournament organizations over the past 12 months were studied.
The Toledo Bend Lake Association provides replicas to sportsmen who land bass 10 pounds or larger and release the fish back into the lake alive. Replicas are awarded every June. In 2015, the fishery produced 81 verified fish over 10 pounds. During the 2016 lunker year, running from June 2015 through May 2016, the number of replicas awarded nearly doubled to 139 double-digit bass.
Toledo Bend Lake straddles the Louisiana and Texas border, and lake management is the responsibility of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. These agencies, in addition to various local organizations, have released more than 28 million Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings into the reservoir.
Just last month, LDWF Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery personnel enlisted help from 20 B.A.S.S. Elite Series anglers to help distribute thousands of Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings throughout the lake. Booker Fowler is responsible for raising millions of bass fingerling each year, utilized to stock state water bodies.
Although the introduction of Florida bass into the lake through stocking was beneficial, it certainly was not the lone contributor in the recent increase of trophy bass. Mother Nature deserves much of the credit.
Drought conditions in 2011 caused the lake water level to drop more than 12 feet below normal, exposing large areas of the lake bottom. Drawdowns, whether man-made or caused by Mother Nature, expose bottom sediments to oxygen and sunlight, increasing decomposition of organic materials. This improves spawning habitat by solidifying the lake bottom, increasing available forage and releasing nutrients into the water when the lake refills. Improved spawning of all fish species provides greater food resources for the lake’s largemouth bass population.
“We’re honored that Toledo was selected for this title for a second year in a row,” said Ricky Moses, LDWF’s head of freshwater fisheries. “I would like to thank all of the state and private organizations the who helped to make this happen. Through aggressive stocking efforts coupled with day-to-day management decisions (and help from Mother Nature), the lake continues to thrive and produce trophy bass.”
Rounding out the top three spots for the Best Bass Lakes of 2016 were Santee Cooper Lakes in South Carolina at number two, and Clear Lake in California claimed the third spot.