Cabela’s Ambassador Wade Middleton breaks down
the bass fishing on this Lone Star State gem.
By Jeff Samsel
“It’s like going to Fenway Park if you’re a baseball fan or Augusta National if you’re a golf fan,” said Cabela’s Ambassador Wade Middleton about Sam Rayburn Reservoir. “It’s one of those classic destinations that should be on every bass fisherman’s bucket list.”
Middleton, who produces and hosts multiple outdoors television shows and is president of Carecotv, noted that 114,500-acre Sam Rayburn is a fishing lake. Most people don’t travel there for skiing or for other recreational boating. They travel there for the fishing, especially the bass fishing, and few leave disappointed.
Sam Rayburn, which was built in 1965 and is located in East Texas, near the city of Jasper, has stood the test of time.
“It has proven over three or four decades that it is an absolute bass factory,” Middleton said.
Sam Rayburn consistently produces tremendous numbers, but it also produces great overall quality and plenty of trophy bass. During the spring, tournament anglers know they need a bag in the upper 20s or even lower 30s to contend.
“If you’re in a tournament and are catching 2-pound fish, which there are a lot of, you need to move,” Middleton said.
The Sam Rayburn lake record largemouth weighed 16.8 pounds and stands as the ninth heaviest bass ever caught in Texas.
Some lakes just look fishy, and Sam Rayburn is one such lake.
It looks like the outstanding bass lake that it is, with several big creek and river arms, widespread hydrilla and other vegetation, bush-covered flats and plentiful flooded timber.
Because quality habitat is abundant and diverse in character, the bass can be caught many different ways.
Middleton especially likes spring fishing, beginning when bass get in pre-spawn mode. Two of the best ways to catch pre-spawn fish at Sam Rayburn are to swim a lipless crankbait over hydrilla on big flats and to work ditches that lead to spawning areas with a soft-plastic stick bait.
Once the bass begin moving onto beds, sight-fishing can be excellent and can yield some monster tournament bags.
As spring progresses and the fish transition into post-spawn mode, the frog bite awakens. Hollow-bodied frogs and solid toad-style baits alike produce explosive late-spring action at Sam Rayburn, according to Middleton.
Of course, while spring is prime time, Middleton suggests anglers visit Sam Rayburn whenever they are able to make the trip. It’s simply a must-fish destinations or as he put it, “bass fishing royalty.”
Middleton noted Sam Rayburn also has outstanding facilities for visiting anglers, including well-maintained ramps from end to end. Some local stops, like the Stump Restaurant and the Bass Buster Inn, are almost as legendary as the lake itself.