Fishing & Boating News

Sam Rayburn Reservoir Readies to Kickoff 24th FLW Tour Season

High Water Levels and Wintertime Temperatures to Keep Pros Guessing at Tournament presented by Polaris

by: Joe Opager, Director of Public Relations,

Photo by courtesy FLW Outdoors
(Dec 27, 2018 - Brookland,TX)

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, is set to launch the 2019 FLW Tour season – the 24th season of the competitive Tour – Jan. 10-13, with the FLW Tour at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Polaris. Hosted by the Jasper County Development District, the tournament will feature 170 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals competing for a top award of up to $125,000 and valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2019 FLW Cup – the world championship of bass fishing.

The FLW Tour has visited Sam Rayburn three times previously, with 2019 marking the 4th visit in FLW’s 24-year history. When the Tour last visited the largest lake in Texas in 2014, FLW Tour superstar Bryan Thrift slowed way down – flipping and pitching a Texas-rigged Damiki Knock Out – to out-fish some of the biggest names in the sport and earn the sixth victory of his career. Thrift will be among the early tournament favorites for the upcoming event as well. The total purse for the FLW Tour at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Polaris is more than $860,000, including $9,000 through 65th place in the Pro Division.

“It’s always exciting to start another FLW Tour season, but it’s really exciting this year to be kicking off the season in Texas,” said local FLW Tour pro Jason Reyes of Huffman, Texas, a three-time FLW Cup qualifier who has three top-10 finishes on Sam Rayburn in FLW competition. “Sam Rayburn can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t fished it before – 100,000 acres of lake that is full of grass and hydrilla and everything looks good. But, it is a lake of opportunity and the potential is there for 10+ pound bass and 30+ pound limits. You can really separate yourself if you can catch a bag like that.”
Reyes said that the region has seen an influx of rain lately and the water levels are higher than normal for this time of year. The water temperature is currently steady between 53 to 55 degrees and with the fish still in their wintertime mode Reyes expects quite a few different patterns to be in play.
“The lake is fishing fairly well,” Reyes said. “Depending on the weather, this tournament will be all about what happens the week before the tournament. We might see everyone out fishing in cold weather gear or we might see everyone in shorts and sweatshirts. The big question will be if the fish move up shallow.

“I don’t think a guy will be able to win it from one spot – they’re going to have to have multiple areas,” Reyes continued. “Lipless crankbaits are always a big player on Rayburn this time of year. Carolina rigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and flipping a jig or soft-plastics will all produce as well. Both ends of the lake will be in play, and we’ll be able to catch them fishing whatever our strengths are.”

Reyes estimated that it would take a two-day total of 30 to 31 pounds for an angler to make the top 30 cut and fish the weekend. He predicted the winner would have a four-day total right around 72 pounds.

”This time of year, we can expect to see quite a few changes over the four-day tournament,” Reyes went on to say. “We may see a guy show out with a huge limit on Day One or Two and then struggle to catch half of that the next day. It’s going to be a fun tournament and a great fishery to kick off the 2019 FLW Tour season.”

Anglers will take off at 7 a.m. CST each day from the Umphrey Family Pavilion, located at 5438 Sam Rayburn Parkway, in Brookeland. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins, Jan. 10-11, will be held at the pavilion beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins, Jan. 12-13, will also be held at the pavilion, but will begin at 4 p.m.

Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Polaris will premiere in 2019. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs each Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST and is broadcast to more than 63 million cable, satellite and telecommunications households in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean on the World Fishing Network (WFN), the leading entertainment destination and digital resource for anglers throughout North America. FLW television is also distributed internationally to FLW partner countries, including Canada, China, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and South Africa.

The popular FLW Live on-the-water program will air on Days Three and Four of the event, featuring live action from the boats of the tournament’s top pros each day. New for 2019, host Travis Moran will be joined by veteran FLW Tour pros Todd Hollowell and Peter Thliveros to break down the extended action each day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On-the-water broadcasts will be live streamed on, the FLW YouTube channel and the FLW Facebook page.
Prior to the weigh-ins each day FLW will host a free Family Fishing Expo at the Umphrey Family Pavilion from 2 to 6 p.m. each day. The Expo is a chance for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.

Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 12 from Noon-2 p.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to anyone under the age of 18 and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. The 1st and 2nd place anglers that catch the biggest fish will be recognized Saturday on the FLW Tour stage, just prior to the pros weighing in.

As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, FLW Tour anglers will visit patients, guests and staff at the Brookeland High School, located at 187 Wildcat Walk, in Brookeland on Wednesday, Jan. 9 from 9-10 a.m. to introduce students to fishing and outdoor activities in their community. During the presentations the pro anglers will reinforce how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) relate to outdoor activities and the life as a professional angler as well as discussing different career paths within the outdoor industry.

In FLW Tour competition, the full field of 170 pro anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 30 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2019 FLW Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2019 FLW Cup will be on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 9-11 and is hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs.

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About FLW
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2019 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.