Winning Baits

John Murray’s winning Toledo Bend baits and pattern


John Murray milked a spot — a long, deeper ridge — that he’d found and fished before on Toledo Bend, including when he won his first B.A.S.S. event there back in 2003.

“Every time I’ve fished that area I’ve gotten a top 25,” he said. “I think I’ve really learned that area well — it’s like having a home lake advantage on one section of the lake.”

He described it as being about a  3-mile-square area that he still hasn’t completely fished. The money spot is a “1/2- to 3/4-mile-long ridge that extends into the lake, basically an old underwater mountain top. It has high spots and flats, a couple drains off it. I’ve seen it when it’s low — it has clay and stumps, and rock foundations. This time the big ones were on those rock foundations.”


He used 4 baits:

Strike King 5XD (sexy shad)


> “It has that big rounded lip. A lot of stumps were there, and I wanted a bait to deflect the best it could.

> “In low light like the last day, the crankbait was the way to go.”

> 7′ 6″ Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crank Rod, Lew’s Custom Pro Reel, 14-lb Lew’s APT line.

Smithwick Super Rogue (clown) — A 25-yr-old bait (not on Tackle Warehouse but available elsewhere).

> “I have confidence in it.”

Lucky Craft Pointer 128 (chartreuse shad) he got from Skeet

> “It’s big and has a loud, obnoxious rattle. The water was dingy up north where I was fishing, and those fish were eating little white bass on top. A lot of guys were fishing shad-sized lures — I upsized the jerkbaits more than most guys did.

> “I fished the jerkbaits fast fast — 1,2,3, stop, but fast. They wanted flash and movement.

> “I don’t like throwing jerkbaits in dirtier water but it worked up there. In 4.5′ deep you could not see the bottom.”

> The jerkbait worked 9-11 a.m., and breezy days it worked best.”

> Jerkbait gear: 7′ 11″ Lew’s Super Duty Rod in lightest action (for the longest cast length), same reel and line as crank.


Gene Larew Tattletail worm (redbug light)

> He was bubba-shotting (heavy dropshot) this with 15-lb Lew’s APT line, 1/4-oz weight and 3/0 hook (TX-rigged) on a baitcaster.

> “Basically I was throwing it at stumps they were spawning by.” He also threw it as a follow bait for missed jerkbait fish.

> 7′ 6″ Lew’s medium casting rod, Lew’s Custom Pro reel.


> Cranking he was sitting in 13′, casting into 5′ and coming off into about 8′.

> “They spawn way out in the middle of lake flats late in the year. I was catching them before they went in there. They were fat little pre-spawners.”

> He didn’t get a bite on that spot day 2, which was dead calm.

> When he won the Bassmaster Open Championship on TBend in 2003, he fished a 3/4-oz Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe (Tennessee shad) around stumps and dropshotted a 5″ Yamamoto Kut Tail worm on hard structure in 10-20′.

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