Seven Pound Average Seals Toledo Bend TXTT Win

Seven Pound Average Seals Toledo Bend TXTT Win
 
Bart Blakelock & James Benedict
Blakelock-Benedict catch 11.42 kicker to clinch TXTT victory
by Brett Carlson

MANY, La. - Historically, Toledo Bend has been known as a great place to go and catch numbers of largemouth bass. Its neighbor to the east, Sam Rayburn, owns the long-standing reputation of holding trophy fish, those rare giants that weigh over 8 pounds. At the second Cabela's Texas Team Trail event of 2015, Bart Blakelock and James Benedict proved that times are a changing. Toledo Bend is now producing both numbers and giants, as evidenced by the winning team catching three bass over 8 pounds, including a jaw dropping 11.42-pound kicker.

Blakelock and Benedict opted to fish a small ditch on the north side of the lake. The two anglers had a good feeling about the area, despite the wet and windy conditions.

"We fished it a week ago and the water temperature was up to about 58 or 59 degrees," said Blakelock, the Lake Charles, La., native. "Today, it was cooled down to about 53 or 54, which I thought was good for a Rat-L-Trap bite."

Blakelock explained that he and Benedict were targeting staging fish in 6 to 8 feet that were on the way in. The area was protected from the blustery weather and the water clarity was perfect - stained, but not too dirty.

"There was a little patch of hydrilla at the end of the ditch," he said. "That was the best spot; it was about the size of two pickup trucks. We just went back and forth on that 25-yard stretch of ditch all day. I was throwing into about 4 and dragging into the 6- to 8-foot ditch."

Benedict got the morning started off on the right foot. On just the second cast of the day, he loaded up on the 11.42 kicker.

"When he first hooked it, I got the net and thought it was about a 7- or 8-pounder," recalled Blakelock. "But when it got closer I tried to put it in the net and I didn't think it was going to fit in there at first."

Soon after, Blakelock got into the action with a 7-pounder and then a 3-pounder. At 9 a.m. another big fish came into the boat, this one weighing about 8 pounds.

"Then it slowed for a little while," Blakelock said. "In fact, we had only seven bites all day. We were having some issues with the cranking battery so we decided we would only fish until 1:30 p.m. At 1:15, I caught the 9-pounder and we decided to come in because we knew we had over 30 pounds."

The official winning weight for five fish was 35.56 pounds. Blakelock and Benedict caught all their fish on a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap in Rayburn Red color with 17-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon. For winning the second qualifier of the season, the two earned a Triton 189 TRX with 150-horspower Mercury Pro XS, valued at $28,500, $1,270 for Big Bass and $2,355 in Anglers Advantage cash.

"I'm so fired up; I can't believe it," said Blakelock. "We fish the lake a lot and that's the largest stringer we've ever caught in a tournament. To have a day that like that is so special. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event. Me and my partner, we are beside ourselves."

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