Toledo Bend, Louisiana/Texas

Bassmaster Elite pro and 2012 Angler of the Year Brent Chapman is a Kansas City native, I was a little surprised when he picked Toledo Bend. I had to ask why? "If you want to catch big bass, go where big bass live. Toledo Bend is producing more 10-pound-plus bass than any lake in the country right now," responded the successful pro. "Summer on 'The Bend' is only tough on anglers. The bass' metabolic engine is running wide open, and they need fuel. They are bunched up, and when you find them you can catch a fish every cast." Chapman shared four simple steps to turn the dog days into hog days.

Step 1: Find the thermocline. Any LCD depth finder will show you the thermocline. Just crank up the sensitivity until you see a faint horizontal line on the screen. Bass will be at or slightly above the thermocline. It will probably somewhere around 25 feet plus or minus a few feet.

Step 2: Find likely bass-holding structure that intersects the thermocline. Use your map to locate good structure—sharp drops, underwater islands, road beds, creek channels that intersect the depth of the thermocline or rise several feet above it. Use your eyes, maps, and side scan to locate timber rising from the bottom several feet above the thermocline. You have just identified the areas where bass are likely to be.Toledo Bend, Louisiana/Texas; July-August

Step 3: Find the bass. Use your side scan/down scan to idle the prime real estate to find bunches of bass. "If you mark fish, they're there. If you don't see fish, don't stop," advised Chapman. " Cover water!"

Step 4: Catch them. Chapman starts with a deep-diving crankbait. It will catch fish, it will catch big fish, and it will often fire up a school. If the crankbait doesn't draw bass, Chapman tries a 5 inch flutter spoon. When he gets a school fired up, he cleans up with a football jig or 10 inch worm. Green pumpkin and plumb are good worm colors, but Chapman considers action much more important than color.

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