BROOKELAND, Texas. (Jan. 28, 2023) – Pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas brought a giant five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 32 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Toyota Series tournament at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and earn the top payout of $80,500. With Day 1 cancelled due to high winds and dangerous boating conditions, Ebare weighed in 10 bass over the two days of competition totaling 48-10 to earn the win by a 1-pound, 5-ounce margin over Wyatt Frankens of Corrigan, Texas, who finished second with a two-day total of 47-5, to take home $17,000.
Ebare has competed in more than 50 Toyota Series events in his young career, had several close finishes on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and finished his debut on the Bass Pro Tour in 2022 with high points and another set of close finishes, yet has never been able to pull out a major win. Until now.
“I don’t take any of that stuff for granted,” Ebare said. “All of the close calls I’ve had over the last several years have been great, and I’m thankful for every one of those good finishes. But at the end of the day, I’m a competitor and I want to win, so to finally accomplish that is a great feeling.”
The Brookeland pro ended Day 1 tied for seventh place. Not the start that he was hoping for, but he was able to salvage the day with a kicker-fish that put him at 16-6, keeping him afloat and in the running for the final day.
“The wind was gassin’ and made it really hard to set up on Day 1,” said Ebare. “I ended the day really disappointed, because I knew I had the chance to catch them big. I had a big one on the crankbait wrap me around a tree and get off, and I lost another really big one on an A-rig. I had a chance to have a giant bag and was pretty disappointed that it didn’t work out.”
Day 2 started off with a bang, with Ebare having more than 25 pounds by mid-morning.
“Today I caught a couple on a football jig and if I’d have picked up that football jig yesterday, it might have gotten really good,” Ebare said. “Because of the wind and how they were set up on Day 1, I decided to throw a Carolina rig and they weren’t really having it. I really wished I’d picked up a football jig yesterday. I’m still thinking about what I could have done better.”
Ebare said he was targeting big winter and prespawn bass in about 15 feet of water. He caught his winning fish on a Strike King 6XD, an umbrella rig with 1/4-ounce heads and Strike King Rage Swimmers, a Strike King Elite 300 jerkbait and a football jig.
“There was never a point today that I was comfortable,” said Ebare. “I had a feeling it was going to take a lot of weight to win this tournament, so I never let off the gas all day. I stopped here on the dam and tried to catch a couple with 5 minutes to go. I really felt like I needed to have more weight and I wasn’t going to stop until it was time to go in.
“I was pretty deflated when I got back on the bank and they told me Wyatt had a big bag and had over 47 pounds total,” Ebare continued. “There was no way in my mind that I thought I had over 30 pounds. I didn’t take time to weigh the bigger fish – they were really big and I knew that, but I didn’t realize how big they were. I figured I had about 29 pounds, which would have put me in second or third place, again. So, when I saw the 32-4 come across the screen on stage, I was ecstatic. That was a really exciting moment, and the biggest weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
As for what’s next, Ebare said he’s on his way to the next tournament and ready to hit the water again with an open mind.
“I’m very thankful and grateful that this one came together, and we finally got that win, but it doesn’t really change anything as far as my game plan moving forward,” Ebare said. “I’m heading to a new lake and a new tournament and we’re going to keep working hard and putting God first and let the rest fall where it may.”
The top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
1st: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 48-10, $80,500
2nd: Wyatt Frankens, Corrigan, Texas, 10 bass, 47-5, $17,000
3rd: Tater Reynolds, Florien, La., 10 bass, 42-9, $12,750
4th: Jason Bonds, Lufkin, Texas, seven bass, 35-14, $10,750
5th: Marshall Hughes, Hemphill, Texas, 10 bass, 34-10, $10,250
6th: River Lee, Nacogdoches, Texas, 10 bass, 32-2, $8,875
7th: Tyler Stewart, Dubach, La., 10 bass, 31-7, $7,300
8th: Cole Moore, Anacoco, La., 10 bass, 30-14, $6,300
9th: Harold Moore, Caldwell, Texas, nine bass, 29-7, $5,300
10th: Garrett Hilton, China, Texas, 10 bass, 29-2, $4,200
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro River Lee of Nacogdoches, Texas won the $500 Big Bass award in the pro division Thursday with a bass weighing 8 pounds, 13 ounces. On Friday, pro Marshall Hughes of Hemphill, Texas, earned the $500 Big Bass prize after bringing a whopping 9-pound, 8-ounce bass to the scale.
Ebare took home an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met.
Justin Swayze of Gurdon, Arkansas, won the Co-angler Division Friday with a two-day total of 8 bass weighing 25 pounds even. Swayze took home the top prize package worth $33,500, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The top 10 co-anglers on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
1st: Justin Swayze, Gurdon, Ark., eight bass, 25-0, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Joe Garcia, Hobson, Texas, eight bass, 21-4, $5,375
3rd: Cedric Jackson, Sicily Island, La., nine bass, 20-12, $4,300
4th: Nick Stanislaus, Porter, Texas, six bass, 18-3, $3,650
5th: Jareb Logan, Brookeland, Texas, seven bass, 17-8, $3,150
6th: Chase Loden, Rusk, Texas, six bass, 16-14, $2,650
7th: Jimmy Wells, Jr., Collinsville, Ill., nine bass, 16-11, $2,150
8th: Cody Davis, Hico, Texas, six bass, 16-10, $1,825
9th: Joe Lee, Midlothian, Texas, nine bass, 16-9, $1,530
10th: Dustin Robinson, Glendale, Ariz., nine bass, 16-3, $1,290
Roger Dorsey of Oil City, Louisiana was the Big Bass $150 award winner in the co-angler division, Thursday, with an 8-pound, 4-ounce bass, while the $150 award went to Swayze on Friday, with a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass.