(Tuesday, February 16,1999 - Sam Rayburn, TX)
"I love this lake, stated Mike Metzler, as he stepped off the BassMaster stage with the winners plaque for the 1997 BassMaster Texas Invitational tournament, held in December on Lake Sam Rayburn. The December of '97 tournament was won with a three day catch weight of 12 bass/ 48.04 lbs, giving the Birmingham AL, construction contractor, Mike Metzler his first pro win of his 8 year career, giving a 2nd place finish to Lake Sam Rayburn's own, Jeff Buchanan, who managed a 37.12 lb weight and a 3rd place slot to Alexander AR, angler, Scott Suggs, with his 35.09 lb catch.
A lot of time and changes have reconditioned our lake's bass fishery since that December tournament, when the BassMaster's flexed their fishing expertise on "Big Sam", and with the BassMaster's coming back to Rayburn on February 18, 19, 20, at Twin Dikes Marina, those changes may have an effect on the outcome of this years BassMaster's Texas Invitational.
With Rayburn now experiencing lower than normal catch weights for its tournament anglers, it is said that the B.A.S.S. anglers will be struggling to make 15 lbs a day, which is expected to put all competitors on an even keel with no run-away weights to dominate the tournament. If these predictions hold, this should make for some really interesting weigh-in's at Twin Dikes Marina, as no one will be able to predict the winner until after the final weigh-in tally on Saturday, Feb, 20. "But" a word of caution rules here folks, as these basser's aren't called professional anglers for nothing. "Someone" will find the key to unlock the jaws of enough bass to "intimidate" the leaderboard, as they've earned their professional stripes by being able to figure out the bass fishery to produce those exciting B.A.S.S. finishes that we've all learned to attribute to the "Masters".
A Brief "Recap" of Previous Lake Rayburn and Toledo Bend BassMaster Tournaments;
Bill Dance, of Memphis, TN, won the very first Sam Rayburn BassMaster event, taking an "All American" tourny with 72.1 lbs back in October of 1968.
Harold Hays, of Dallas TX, managed to win a "Texas National" which was held on Rayburn in April, of 1969, with a 105.4 lb catch. Mike Bono, of Lake Charles LA, took the first Toledo Bend "Invitational" with 94.4 lbs of bass which was held back in January of 1970, and Bill Dance, of Memphis, re-took the following Rayburn "National" with 62.6 lbs held on September of 1970.
June of 1971 found a "Texas National" bag for John Powell, of Montgomery AL, as he wrestled a 61.6 lb catch from Rayburn waters. Our Lakes area wouldn't see the BassMaster's again til March of 1974 when the "Texas Invitational" was won by Ricky Green, of Arkadelphia AR, for his 59.13 lb catch. From then on Toledo Bend would feel the presence of the BassMaster's as they held their "Louisiana Invitational" in February of 1975, which was won by Marvin Baker, of Broaddus TX, with a 61.6 lb catch.
Jim McKay, of Brandon MS, took the 1976 Toledo "Invitational" with 78.9 lbs, and Stockton CA, angler, David Gliebe managed to win the 1977 Toledo Bend "Invitational" with his 83.2 lbs of bass.
Three more years would pass before the BassMaster's returned to Toledo to see Larry Nixon, of Hemphill TX, win the June of 1980 "Louisiana Invitational" with 60.9 lbs. Roland Martin, of Broken Arrow OK, found enough bass for the February 1981 Toledo "Invitational" win with an 84.11 lb catch, and November of 1981 would award the Toledo "Invitational" win for an 81.10 lb catch to Tommy Martin, of Hemphill TX, which would also mark the last time that the BassMaster's held their tournaments on Lake Toledo Bend, as they moved back to Lake Sam Rayburn for the February of 1983 tournament, which would see Hemphill TX, Pro, Tommy Martin, take the "Texas Invitational" with a 63.8 lb catch, giving the local B.A.S.S./Pro back to back winning honors for both the Louisiana and the Texas Invitational's.
March of 1984 found a good catch for Denny Brauer, of Camdenton MO, as he won the Rayburn "Invitational" with a 55.11 lb catch, and Ron Shearer, of Hardin KY, managed to win the 1985 Feb/March Rayburn "Invitational" with a 54.1 lb bag.
March of 1986 was good for Denny Brauer again as the Camdenton MO, Pro, put 44.10 lbs on the scale to win the Rayburn "Invitational" event.
David Wharton, of Broaddus TX, notched a March 1987 Rayburn "Invitational" with 37.2 lb win, and Shaw Grigsby, of Gainesville FL, put 26.3 lbs on the data board for the March 1988 Rayburn "Invitational".
Ron Shuffield, of Bismark AR, managed to catch a Top 100 Pro/Am win with 53.1 lbs for the June 1989 Rayburn event, and Shaw Grigsby would re-claim the "Texas Invitational" title with a March 1990 Rayburn catch of 47.13 lbs.par
Jim Nolan of Bull Shoals AR, put 86.0 lbs on the scale for Rayburn's March of 1991 BP-Top 100 win, and Shaw Grigsby would win an unprecedented 3rd time in a row Texas Invitational title with his March of '92 Rayburn win of 62.8 lbs.
Onalaska TX, Pro, Randy Dearman, would "stress test" the March of 1993 BassMaster Texas Invitational weigh-in scale with a "whopping" 67.13 lbs that would also set a Rayburn BassMaster tournament catch record for a 5 bass limit.
Guy Eaker, of Cherryville N.C., created a new Rayburn fishing technique (which is still used to this day) to win the March of 1994 Rayburn "Invitational" with a "grass-tipping" catch of 49.0 lbs.
Jim Bitter of Fruitland Park FL, "slowrolled" his way to win the February of 1995 Rayburn "Invitational" with a "red spinner-bait" catch of 45.6 lbs.
Houston TX, angler, Bud Pruitt, managed to anchor the February of 1996 Rayburn "Invitational" win with his "final day" 5 bass/31.02 lb catch which helped to boost his 3 day tally to 53.03 lbs. Huntington TX, Pro, and Stanley Baits "CEO" Lonnie Stanley, managed to withstand the 1997 competitive pressure from Huntsville TX, Pro, Bill Cannan, taking the March "Invitational" with a "beany bush" catch of 51.2 lbs.
The BassMasters returned to Rayburn again in December of 1997 for their 97/98 season start, which was won by 3 days of hard bassin' which put an hours worth of catching action on the scale for Birmingham AL, Construction Contractor, Mike Metzler when he put a winning weight of 48.04 lbs on the scale.
(Editors note; difference in winning weights over the years are due to the adjustment changes in daily bass limits which ran from 15 bass, to 10 bass, and finally to the present day 5 bass a daily limit)
Now that the BassMasters are returning to Rayburn with their Texas Invitational in February of '99, it should be become a very interesting contest to witness the daily catch weights, due to the fact of Lake Sam Rayburn had suffered serious problems from the effects of its "extreme" long "hot"summer which caused lighter than normal weight tabulations for its tournament anglers. "But even so, Rayburn still has the potential of providing "AAA" bass fishing as most Guides are reporting from 35 to 50 bass per trip catch averages. This should provide some "very interesting" weigh-in scenario's for the three days of BassMaster competition as experts are predicting "low" but active weights which will keep anglers "and" spectators on their toes until the final bass is weighed on the final day.
"Everyone" is invited to attend the three days of weigh-in which will be held at Twin Dikes Marina on Thursday-(Feb-18)-Friday-(Feb-19)-Saturday-(Feb-20)- Please be advised to arrive early each day for the 2:30 pm til 4:pm weigh-in's in order to grab a prime viewing spot. There will also be a special Texas Bass Federation K-Mart Casting Kids contest held on Saturday, February 20, for those children who wish to compete for a chance to advance to the World Finals to be held at the BassMaster's Classic in the year 2000. "And" as an extra added treat for the public, Texas Parks & Wildlife will have the Budwieser "Lonestar Share-A-Lunker" display on hand, which will have the previous years of "exact" replica bass mounts, including the Texas State Record of 18.21 lbs. Don't miss this display folks as it will become a memory of a lifetime, "be sure to bring your camera's!"
For more information on lodging and camping facilities call the Jasper Chamber of Commerce at (409)-384-2762. For more info on the BassMaster tournaments contact Ann Lewis at (334)-272-9530- for daily Rayburn Tournament updates clicK to