Top 150 Solo Southwest Opens On Sam Rayburn
ATHENS, Ala. – The American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, Southwest Division opens its 2023 season March 17-18 on Lake Sam Rayburn, Texas out of Cassel Boykin Landing near Zavalla, Texas.
The Series features two regional divisions. The Southeast and Southwest Divisions each hold three 2-day tournaments for the season. Both divisions offer big cash payouts and chances for anglers to advance to higher levels of competition.
Each angler pays $600 to enter each divisional tournament and everyone fishes alone both days. No more than 150 anglers can participate in any divisional event. If 150 anglers participate, the winner will take home a guaranteed $20,000. If fewer competitors register, the top 20 percent of the field will each earn a portion of the prize money, based on the number of entries.
The largest reservoir entirely within Texas, “Big Sam” covers 114,500 acres in the East Texas piney woods just north of Jasper. It runs about 79 miles along the Angelina River and offers anglers more than 750 shoreline miles. The water drops to more than 80 feet deep in places.
The sprawling reservoir dates to 1965 and consistently produces giant bass. Every year, it gives up some double-digit lunker largemouth and many bass in the 4- to 8-pound range. Tommy Shelton set the lake record at 16.80 pounds, the 110th largest bass ever caught in the Lone Star State. He caught it on a 3/4-ounce chartreuse and white-soft plastic bait.
The lake can also produce great catches of spotted bass. In February 1987, Curt E. Smith set the lake record for spotted bass at 5.50 pounds, just shy of the Texas state record for the species.
Created in the East Texas flatlands, the lake bottom doesn’t change drastically. However, several old creek channels, now inundated by the reservoir, still crisscross the bottom. These channels create humps and drops where anglers can work various baits. Largemouth spawning peaks in mid-March so anglers should find big bass up on the flats.
Large patches of matted vegetation mark much of the reservoir. Usually, aquatic grass grows out to about 10 to 12 feet deep. Anglers can still find some standing timber, brush and laydowns in the massive reservoir.
During a Southwest Division tournament held June 17-18, 2022, on Lake Sam Rayburn, Kris L. Wilson from Montgomery, Texas, landed a perfect 10-bass 2-day limit going 43.70 pounds. That gave him a 4.37-pound daily average.
“I caught my fish in 18 to 25 feet of water around timber and brush,” Wilson recalled. “I fished a crankbait and a big worm. I tried about 30 spots and caught about 18 bass on the first day. The second day was tougher. I only caught seven bass.”
Kevin Lasyone from Dry Prong, La. finished second with 10 bass going 43.22 pounds. On the second day, he brought in the heaviest single-day sack of the tournament at 26.64 pounds for an average of 5.33 pounds. He topped that bag with a 7.53-pound bucketmouth.
“I was fishing in 20 to 25 feet of water, but throwing up shallow and dragging it out,” Lasyone detailed. “Some bass bit the bait up shallow and some out deeper. All my fish hit a V&M J-Mag worm. On the first day, I caught my biggest fish from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. On the last day, I caught one big one in the morning and two in the afternoon.”
Tom Nilssen of New Braunfels, Texas, finished third with 36 pounds, but one of his fish weighed 10.38 pounds, a fish he caught on the first day. He also caught two 6-pounders that day.
“On Day 1, I fished a main-lake point,” Nilssen said. “I noticed some big trees in about 30 feet of water off the point. I backed off and worked my jig through those trees. The fish were suspended at about 24 feet deep in 30 feet of water. I cast the jig up into the shallows and worked it out to the deeper water. When it got into the deeper water, I worked it over the tree. The second it fell on the backside of the tree a bass would hammer it.”
Other hot lures during that 2022 tournament included a 6th Sense Baits 300DD deep-diving crankbait and a 6th Sense Ridge Worm worked around deep brush piles.
To register for Sam Rayburn event CLICK HERE
From Lake Sam Rayburn, the division anglers head to Lake O’ the Pines on April 28-29, 2023. Competitors will launch at Lakeside Park, located at 5177 FM 726 in Jefferson, Texas.
The Southwest Division season concludes its season May 26-27, 2023, at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas line. That event runs out of Lost Frontier, located at 5518 TX-21 in Hemphill, Texas.
For information on the Southwest Division, call Tournament Director Chris Wayand at (256) 230-5627 or the Top 150 Solo Southwest schedule at THIS LINK
Anglers could also qualify for one of two post-season tournaments. The top 15 points holders in each division at the end of the regular season will qualify to fish the ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship, providing they fished all three of their divisional events. The Tour Championship will take place Oct. 6-7, 2023, at a venue to be announced later.
Conducted like the divisional events, the Tour Championship will involve two days of intense competition with the winner taking home $25,000. In addition, every angler in the field will receive a payout.
Anglers who did not qualify by points for the Tour Championship, but who fished all three of the qualifiers in their division, will be invited to fish a 2-day Wild Card event, slated for Lake Neely Henry. That event will run out of Coosa Landing, located at 200 Lake Street in Gadsden, Ala. on July 14-15, 2023.
From this Wild Card tournament, the top five anglers will advance to the ABA Top 150 Solo Series Championship. Qualifying through their divisions by points and additionally, from the Wild Card, the Tour Championship field will total 35 competitors. Moreover, the top five anglers by points from each division after the Tour Championship will be eligible to fish the 2024 Ray Scott Championship.
In addition, anglers may qualify for bonus money offered by such tournament sponsors as Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, the T-H Marine Atlas Awards program and Power Pole. See each manufacturer’s website for details, rules and qualifications for more information on their contingency programs.
Anyone who wishes to fish an ABA event, must become an ABA member. ABA members can receive discounts from some sponsors. For example, Optima Batteries will give ABA members 25 percent off and free shipping on any battery. Membership costs $35 a year, but anglers can save money by signing up for multiple years. A life membership costs $450.
For more information or to register for any ABA Solo 150 event, see www.americanbassanglers.com/Top150.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com and LurePartsOnline.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.
For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.
This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email email@example.com.
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