MANY (AP) — Once a sparkling fishing haunt for the masses, Toledo Bend Reservoir went through a period in recent years where anglers young and old avoided it like the plague, primarily due its inaccessibility and to a lack of production.

But the 185,000-acre fishery that spans Louisiana and Texas appears to be making an impressive comeback thanks to stable water conditions and a trophy bass replica program that has reached record numbers.

“The lunker bass program is the proof in the pudding,” said Bossier City angler Jeff Holder, who fishes a number of events annually on Toledo with partner Terry Burghart. “I believe over the last six months, Toledo is the best lake for bass in Texas — and there are some good ones there — Rayburn, Lake Fork, Amistad, Falcon.”

The Toledo Bend Lake Association, which puts up approximately $26,000 annually to sponsor the TBLA Lunker Bass Program, has seen record numbers of 10-pound-plus bass weighed in for three consecutive years. With a week remaining in the counting season, 81 bass weighing at least 10 pounds have been certified and released back into the fishery. Last year there was a record 61 and in 2013 a record 58.

“The reason for the high numbers is due to a number of factors, but the lake is in excellent condition and the drought allowed some of the vegetation to return,” said TBLA president John Toliver. “Dinah Medine manages our Facebook page for the trophy bass and she does a good job keeping up with all that.”

Toledo Bend rated a No. 15 spot in the country’s top 100 best bass fishing lakes according to a Bassmaster.com listing last year, but the fishery should continue to rise in similar such ratings. It keeps producing larger and larger sacks to win an event on Toledo.

“Back in the day, 25 pounds (5 fish) would likely win an event on Toledo, but the new norm is 30-plus pounds,” said Holder, the current leader with Burghart for Angler of the Year honors on the Bass Champs trail with one event left. “There was one recent event where it took 36 pounds to win.”

A retired scientist who lives on the lake, Toliver said he likes to research the numbers surrounding his favorite fishery. He said that 70-75 percent of the trophy bass are caught on the Texas side, mostly in the Indian Creek area. He also noted that there are at least 17 lakes within a 75-mile radius of Toledo just on the Louisiana side.

One thing Toliver hasn’t seen is fish brought to one of the five weigh-stations surpassing the 13-pound range.

“I keep thinking we’ll eventually get a state record, but it hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

———

Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com