The Toyota Series Southwestern Division will kick off the 2021 season with a tournament this week at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas. The three-day tournament will feature anglers competing for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus an additional $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. Anglers will also be competing for qualification opportunities to the Toyota Series Championship and a chance to win up to $235,000.
MLF Pro Circuit angler and accomplished Sam Rayburn pro Dicky Newberry of Houston, Texas, said he is expecting good things from the famed fishery at the end of January.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and the lake is coming up,” Newberry said. “We have a little color in the water and the creeks are kind of trashed, but the lake is in good shape with a lot of healthy fish, which is what you expect this time of year.”
By the end of the week, Newberry said some fish will begin to push shallow to stage in preparation for the spawn. Because of that, he expects there to be a little bit of everything to fish for during this tournament.
“Big stringers are going to come from the outside on the clay, drops and ridges,” he said. “That’s where those big ones are living right now. There’s also a pad-stem bite and we might have water up in the bushes by then, so that could be going on – but that’s the thing about Rayburn, it’s got a little bit of everything.”
While fishing deep may produce the biggest limits of the event, Newberry said he isn’t ready to write off anything up shallow. Despite the lake kicking out a 40-pound limit a few weeks prior, he said he felt like 57 to 60 pounds should be the benchmark for a winning weight.
“It can be won in any of those patterns, or a combination of them,” said Newberry. “There’s just so many fish. Even though Rayburn gets a lot of pressure, it still takes over 20 to win single-day tournaments and sometimes 30 or 40. But I predict it will take around 60 pounds to win this one.”
Anglers will take off daily at 7 a.m. CT from the Umphrey Family Pavilion in Brookeland. Weigh-ins will also be held at the Umphrey Family Pavilion and will begin at 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers and essential staff only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.