Back Home for Big Bass
The Toyota Texas Bass Classic returns to its roots at Lake Fork.
By Randy Brudnicki
After a series of successful tournaments on Lake Conroe, anglers and spectators are looking forward to returning to where the Toyota Texas Bass Classic began. Lake Fork, which continues to be one of the country’s most highly regarded bass fisheries, will host this year’s tournament May 9 through 11.
Lake Conroe produced a fair number of large bass for anglers in previous tournaments, but it’s hard to top Lake Fork for giant bass. As evidenced by the current Toyota ShareLunker season numbers, Lake Fork has big bass magic.
The unique tournament field features most of the top professional bass anglers from three major pro tours. Pro anglers say they love the bass classic because it is a no-entry-fee, bragging-rights “world championship” that spans the major tours.
Of course, a $100,000 top prize doesn’t hurt, either. Every angler in the tournament receives a guaranteed payout.
In 2007, Toyota Texas Bass Classic pioneered a professional tournament where bass are caught, weighed and immediately released. The format showcases Texas’ great fisheries while also protecting the resource by reducing fish handling.
Lake Fork has a 16- to 24-inch slot limit for largemouth bass, which means that no one may keep a bass measuring between 16 and 24 inches. Tournament anglers are permitted to bring one “over the slot limit” fish to the scales each day, to the delight of the huge crowds witnessing the weigh-ins.
All the anglers come onstage to talk about their fishing day and often hang around the weigh-in area afterwards so spectators, especially youth, can interact with them.
Biologists from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provide excellent care for the large fish brought in. Specially treated, aerated tanks ensure that the bass are returned to the lake in healthy condition.
Texan Keith Combs was the 2013 champion and has been invited to return to defend his title. Combs also won the tournament in 2011; he’s the only angler to win the event twice.
The pro anglers aren’t the only winners here. Texans also benefit from the annual $250,000 contribution from the tournament to TPWD, which uses the money to fund a variety of fishing programs like Neighborhood Fishin’, a TPWD partnership with local communities to stock urban lakes with trout and catfish by season.
Of course, the event is much more than a bass tournament. The live music concerts draw big crowds, and other activities include sponsor exhibits, a barbecue cook-off, TPWD adventure area and Kids’ Zone.
For more information, visit www.toyotatexasbassclassic.com.