Texas Team Trail Presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s 2020 Season Preview – Sam Rayburn

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (January 10, 2020) – Weather and water levels could play dominant roles in shaping the 2020 Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. The season begins and ends on Lake Sam Rayburn, the East Texas powerhouse that saw near record floods force a rescheduling of the 2019 season opener from February to May. As long as the area avoids another soaked spring, competitors will get to sample two distinctly different Rayburn seasons, along with three more stellar Texas fisheries.
Let’s take a look at how the 2020 schedule lays out.
Brookeland, Texas
February 22, 2020
Size: 114,500-acre Angelina River impoundment
Features: Grass, shallow wood, bridges, offshore structure
Max Depth: 80 feet
Lake Record Bass: 16.80 (1997)
What’ll Play: The year’s second month can be a fickle one and Jason Bonds says weather patterns will determine not only how anglers dress on tournament morning, but how and where they’ll look to engage those Rayburn big heads. The later February date definitely moves us away from winter’s harshest conditions, but exactly when the seasonal transitions occur defies prediction — a point that will most certainly make this first event one of the most challenging.
“I’ve seen a lot of prespawn fish in February and I’ve caught them on beds then; but I’ve seen water in the low 50’s that time of year where you have a little bit of prespawn and you still have the deep water stuff where they’re not even thinking about prespawn,” Bonds said. “I think you’ll see a lot of big bags that time of year and you might be able to catch them from 3 feet to 30 feet.”
One detriment Rayburn anglers will face is the lack of grass — a casualty of the 2019 flood blocking sunlight and withering vast acreage of hydrilla and other bass-friendly vegetation. Bonds said he’s seeing some new growth, but whether it will become a significant factor remains to be seen. That being said, Rayburn’s abundance of habitat features will provide anglers multiple options across a large playing field.
“February is about the only time of year that you can win a tournament from one end of the lake to the other,” Bonds said.
Likely Baits: Assuming mostly prespawn activity, look for Carolina-rigged lizards and worms to get a lot of face time, along with the perennial Rayburn favorite — a lipless crankbait (probably, a red one). Anglers targeting offshore fish holding to their winter spots may also find the C-rig useful, but deep cranking and dragging jigs and Texas-rigged worms around brush piles and other offshore structure will be the main deal.