Toledo Bend Reservoir is one of the top bass fishing spots in the United States and one of the most common stops on the various Bassmaster fishing circuits.
It’s no different for the teenage crowd, as the Costa Bassmaster High School Central Open presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods will return to Toledo Bend for the third consecutive year when the tournament is held Saturday.
About 200 high school tandems are expected to take part in the open event. At least half of that field will hail from schools around Louisiana, while other two-angler teams from Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and several other states also are expected to compete.
The young anglers will launch at 6:15 a.m. from Cypress Bend Pavilion in Many, and weigh-in will begin at 2:15 p.m. at the same location.
“Toledo Bend is one of the premier bass fisheries in America,” said Hank Weldon, senior manager of high school, college, and youth fishing for B.A.S.S. “That certainly is a draw, but the location along the border of two states (Louisiana and Texas) that have really active high school fishing programs is also big for the Open. This is the fourth year of the high school series, and the third time we’ll be on Toledo Bend.”
The 2016 Bassmaster High School Central Open also was scheduled for March, but flooding that ravaged large portions of the state this time last year forced postponement. The event was moved to June, and about 100 high school duos competed. The team of Caleb Gatwood and Cayden Soberoski of Oak Grove (Mississippi) High won with a three-bass limit of 14 pounds, 4 ounces. The big bass of the tournament weighed 6-15 and was caught by the team of Ethan Smart and Grant Bourque of the Ascension (Parish) Anglers. That local team finished sixth overall.
Unseasonably warm temperatures so far this year could help fishing on Toledo Bend on Saturday, Weldon said. He’s expecting fish to be caught in pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn phases.
“It could produce some really nice bass, because the anglers can fish to their strengths,” he said.
An added perk to this year’s Central Open is that the top five tandems will earn a spot in the Bassmaster High School Classic on March 25 during the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic in Houston. The Elite anglers in the Bassmaster Classic will fish on Lake Conroe, while 13 top high school teams from around the U.S. will fish on nearby Lake Houston. The prep teams will fish only for bragging rights, but they will weigh-in on the same stage as the Elites, Weldon said.
“To be a part of the Classic, and part of the biggest event in bass fishing, is a big deal for them,” he said.
For more information on the Bassmaster High School Central Open, on the GEICO Bassmaster Classic, or any other Bassmaster event, log onto www.bassmaster.com. Attendance at all events is free.