Louisiana’s Colby Miller Wins MLF Toyota Series at Sam Rayburn Reservoir

BROOKELAND, Texas (Feb. 24, 2024) – Big up-and-down days are commonplace on Sam Rayburn, and consistency doesn’t win as much as it does other places. Of course, it can win if you just mash the pedal to the floor the whole time, which is what Colby Miller opted to do.

Hammering out 27 pounds, 4 ounces on Day 1, Miller followed it up with 24-15 and 25-4 on Days 2 and 3, respectively, to tally 77-7 for the win at the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division opener. The 24-year-old pro took home $72,809, including the Phoenix MLF Bonus, for the win.

Winning with a 14-14 margin, Miller dominated the event, and he did it off several places and with a lot of good decisions, using all his considerable skills and Texas knowledge.

Each morning, he started on a one-cast grass spot.

“It’s a little depression in the grass; I think it’s only an early morning deal,” he said. “All three days I went back midday, and only yesterday I was able to get bit. It’s a one-cast deal. I could see them sitting in the little depression on LiveScope – it was just getting them to bite. Today, it was slick calm, and I pulled out a wacky rig and was able to get some to bite.”

Most mornings, he plucked them with a Strike King Hybrid Hunter or a vibrating jig, running the bait repeatedly though a key area that was half a foot deeper than the rest of the grass bed.

“It’s grass, but very dirty water – you really had to get it on their nose,” he said. “Making the same cast over and over was key. I spent at least an hour there every morning. If I got lucky, I caught a big one, but it would settle me down and get me a limit.”

On Day 1, Miller mixed things up and even plucked a big one he found suspended on a tree in practice. On the latter two days, he caught his big ones in fairly shallow staging areas, laying the wood with an umbrella rig and a 6th Sense Crush 300DD. Fishing places with stumps and grass near spawning areas, Miller concentrated in 6 to 12 feet and “saw” most of his big ones on LiveScope.

On Day 3, after a lackluster start, his staging program got him right.

“My starting spot kind of went dry on me,” said Miller of the final day. “I caught four there – like three 3-pounders and a 1 1/2. Then, I ran a couple spots and went to where I’ve been waiting for them to pull in all week. They were there in practice. I caught a 6 and had an 8 at the side of the boat. In practice, I saw four or five great big ones swimming around. Since then, it’s just been buck bass. I knew with the full moon coming, the weather being 80, I knew they were coming. I just hoped that they made it before the tournament ended.

“Today, when I rolled in, I didn’t make it no piece,” he said. “I saw the first one, caught it, it was a 6 1/2. Then, I got to the little stretch they normally hang up at, and as soon as I got to it, I caught another right at 6, and then another.”

Fishing the Pro Circuit or the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals since 2020, Miller did well around the house in his teens, though it took him a while to see success nationally – his first two years on tour saw him bank triple-digit finishes. In 2023, things began to turn his way, and the Toledo Bend crappie guide has been on fire since the Toyota Series Championship on Table Rock.

Since a Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) win this winter, he’s fished to the peak of his talents.

“I’ve never been a winner, ever,” he said. “I’ve just been a so-so, middle-of-the-pack kind of guy. Ever since I won that BFL, it’s changed my game. It changed my mindset, ever since then, I don’t go looking for a check. I go looking for a win.”

Still, win No. 2 didn’t come easy, as Miller’s second staging spot of the day knocked him off his roll in a big way.

“When I pulled in there today, there were giants everywhere swimming around,” he said. “I hooked two big ones and lost them both, and I literally thought I lost my shot right there. The rest of the day, I couldn’t do anything right. I’d make a short cast at a big one, or land on top of it; I couldn’t do anything right.”

But, about halfway through weigh-in, an emotional Miller realized things might have actually turned his way.

“I really started doubting myself,” said Miller of his early national experience. “I just continuously put 110% of effort in, and tried my hardest every time. And now it’s paying off.”

The top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:

1st:         Colby Miller, Elmer, La., 15 bass, 77-7, $72,809 (includes $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
2nd:        Wyatt Fankens, Corrigan, Texas, 15 bass, 62-9, $14,651
3rd:        Chad Mrazek, Montgomery, Texas, 15 bass, 60-8, $11,343
4th:         Cole Moore, Anacoco, La., 15 bass, 60-7, $9,452
5th:         Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colo., 15 bass, 57-8, $8,507
6th:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 15 bass, 57-0, $8,062
7th:         Levi Thibodaux, Thibodaux, La., 15 bass, 56-13, $6,617
8th:         Brett Clark, Center, Texas, 15 bass, 56-8, $5,671
9th:         Blake Schroeder, Whitehouse, Texas, 15 bass, 56-2, $4,726
10th:      Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 15 bass, 55-10, $3,781
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Pro Kaden Mueck of Livinsgston, Texas, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Wednesday with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces. On Thursday, pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize after bringing a 10-pound, 12-ounce bass to the scale.

Miller took home an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

Ben Faucheaux of Natchitoches, Louisiana, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Friday with a three-day total of 12 bass weighing 36 pounds, 2 ounces. Faucheaux took home the top prize package worth $33,500, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:

1st:          Ben Faucheaux, Natchitoches, La., 12 bass, 36-2, Phoenix 518 pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd:        Sakae Ushio, Tonawanda, N.Y., 14 bass, 35-6, $4,729
3rd:        James Allen Pruitt, Houston, Texas, 12 bass, 34-7, $3,783
4th:         Tyler Medica, Boyce, La., 13 bass, 31-0, $3,310
5th:         Robert Davis, Lufkin, Texas, 15 bass, 30-14, $2,837
6th:         James Nelson, Long Branch, Texas, 14 bass, 29-15, $2,364
7th:         Robert Massey, Calhoun, La., 14 bass, 29-6, $1,891
8th:         John Moon, Brookeland, Texas, 15 bass, 28-15, $1,655
9th:         David Bozarth, Montgomery, Texas, 15 bass, 28-6, $1,419
10th:      Michael Leach, Shenandoah, Texas, 13 bass, 26-13, $1,332
Kevin Maxwell of Laneville, Texas, was the Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, Wednesday, with an 8-pound, 11-ounce bass, while the Day 2 $150 award went to Alejandro Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas, with a 6-pound, 15-ounce fish.

The Toyota Series at Sam Rayburn Presented by FX Custom Rods was hosted by the Jasper – Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, and was the first of three regular-season events for the Toyota Series Southwestern Division. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will be the Toyota Series at Toledo Bend Reservoir, March 26-28, in Many, Louisiana. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2024 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2025. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2024 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 7-9 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Huntsville Sports Commission.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Toyota Series include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, FX Custom Rods, General Tire, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak Fishing, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki Marine, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota and YETI.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Toyota Series, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Tackle Warehouse Invitational updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at  Facebook , Instagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.