Reynolds Wins MLF Toyota Series Tournament at Toledo Bend Reservoir

March 29, 2024
MLF Toyota Series

MANY, La. (March 29, 2024) – In the days leading up to the Southwestern Division bass tournament on Toledo Bend, Tater Reynolds had a pretty good feeling about his chances of winning his first Toyota Series trophy. On Sunday, the Florien, Louisiana, native proclaimed that it would take between 80 and 90 pounds to win the three-day event and that he liked his chances of getting there. 

Reynolds made good on his prediction, bagging nearly 30 pounds (29-15) on Day 3 to bring his total to 83-4. What he didn’t envision was how far ahead that would place him from the rest of the 114-boat field.

Reynolds topped runner-up Cole Moore by 21-10; which is the second-largest margin of victory in Toyota Series history, trailing only Alec Morrison’s 24-pound romp on Sam Rayburn last May. Interestingly, Reynolds finished second to Morrison in that event, while Morrison finished third this week. For the win, Reynolds earned $32,539 and a spot in the Toyota Series Championship, which will be contested on Wheeler Lake in November.

During a week in which falling water temperatures made for a tricky bite on Toledo Bend, Reynolds made the fishing look easy. He led by more than 5 pounds after sacking up 28-15 on Day 1, then added 24-6 on Day 2, which extended his lead into the double digits.

Thursday, he started on a spot that he’d largely been saving, aside from catching two keepers there the day prior. He quickly boated a 5-pounder, then his biggest bass of the day, an 8-7. Those two fish would have been more than enough to earn the trophy.

“I had been saving that one,” Reynolds said of the spot, a point near the main lake where bass were ending their postspawn journeys. “Every day I could save it, them fish that were coming out of the creek, they were steadily loading up on that spot. The more days I could leave it be, the better.”

From there, Reynolds ran to another staging area and caught two more in the 5-pound range. With the morning bite fading, he switched gears to targeting individual fish using Garmin LiveScope. Around 12:40 p.m., when he caught a 6-pounder on an Alabama rig, he admitted to himself that his lead was safe. He strapped down his rods and spent the rest of the afternoon around the bank, trying to help his co-angler catch a limit.

“It was a good feeling,” Reynolds said. “I got that one in the boat, and I was like, ‘Thank you, Lord. That’s it. That’s sealed up, right there.’”

Reynolds’ final-day total marked the biggest bag of the event. He accounted for three of the four largest limits.
In the end, the only real drama was whether or not he would break Morrison’s record for margin of victory.

Reynolds admitted that the thought crossed his mind, and he believes he likely would have done so had he fished a bit cleaner. In the minutes after hoisting the trophy, he half-jokingly kicked himself over missed fish, particularly three big ones that he hooked and lost on Day 1.

“I think if I would have just caught one of them big ones the first day that I lost — because I actually had them hooked up, they just pulled off,” Reynolds said. “If I just would have had one of them three, I probably would have broken the record.”

Between guiding for crappie and fishing local tournaments on the lake, Reynolds spends more time on Toledo Bend than just about anyone. He also won a Phoenix Bass Fishing League event on the Louisiana-Texas border reservoir earlier this month.

His understanding of what the bass were up to played a pivotal role this week. Reynolds firmly believes that about 80% of Toledo Bend’s bass have already spawned, while most anglers targeted fish in and around spawning areas. However, his winning spots were nothing sneaky.

Reynolds started practice looking for fish relating to timber or creek channels near spawning areas. When he struck out there, he tried classic summertime haunts. After coming up empty, the process of elimination led him to check secondary points near the main lake — classic staging spots.

“They either stage on points, stage on timber coming out of the creek, or they’re just going to leave,” Reynolds said. “I ‘Scoped the open stuff, the obvious stuff — the timber, the creek channels. They wasn’t there. So, I was like, well, I know they’re not back there spawning, because I’d say 80% of them done spawned. So, I know they’re not back there spawning, they’ve got to be traveling. And I checked the main lake, the summer stuff, and they weren’t quite there yet, either. So, I was like, man, they’ve got to be on the points, secondary points coming out of pockets.”

Finding the bass feeding most actively in the mornings, Reynolds primarily caught them using crankbaits. In the 10- to 15-foot range, he used a 6th Sense Crush 300DD on 15-pound Strike King Tour Grade Fluorocarbon. The spot where he started Day 3 was a bit deeper, about 20 feet, and closer to the main lake. There, he turned to the 6th Sense Cloud 9 C25, which he tied to 17-pound fluorocarbon.

When bass stopped responding to the crankbait, Reynolds switched to a few different dragging presentations. His main offering was a 6th Sense Divine Magnum Shakey Worm, which he affixed to a 1/2-ounce shaky head.

While Reynolds has established himself as one of the best local anglers in an area full of hammers, he doesn’t see himself touring nationally unless he comes across a major influx of cash (like, say, winning the $200,000 first-place prize at the Toyota Series Championship).

After all, there’s plenty of high-level fishing in Southeast Texas and Louisiana to keep him occupied. Plus, he enjoys fishing in front of family and friends, which gathered en masse to witness his coronation at Thursday’s weigh-in. Reynolds said their support “means the world to me” and made his first multi-day tournament win as a pro even sweeter.

“I hope it doesn’t take too long before I win another one, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything right now,” he said. “The feeling doesn’t feel like it can get any better.”

The top 10 pros on Toledo Bend Reservoir finished:

1st:        Tater Reynolds, Florien, La., 15 bass, 83-4, $32,539
2nd:       Cole Moore, Anacoco, La., 15 bass, 61-10, $13,493 (includes $1,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
3rd:       Alec Morrison, Peru, N.Y., 15 bass, 61-1, $9,672
4th:        Jaden Parrish, Liberty, Texas, 15 bass, 56-13, $8,060
5th:        Todd Castledine, Nacogdoches, Texas, 15 bass, 56-12, $7,254
6th:        Marshall Hughes, Hemphill, Texas, 15 bass, 55-11, $6,448
7th:        Dylan Thompson, Forney, Texas, 15 bass, 53-15, $5,642
8th:        Zane Parker, Kingwood, Texas, 15 bass, 53-14, $4,836
9th:        Richard Madole, Many, La., 15 bass, 50-14, $4,030
10th:     Russell Cecil, Willis, Texas, 13 bass, 50-11, $3,724

Complete results can be found at

Pro Russell Cecil of Willis, Texas, earned Tuesday’s $500 Big Bass Award with a largemouth weighing in at 9 pounds, 7 ounces. Wednesday’s $500 Berkley Big Bass Award was earned by pro Cody Ross of Livingston, Texas, who brought a 9-pound, 15-ouncer to the scale.

Tanner Crim of Castroville, Texas, won the Co-angler Division Thursday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 10 ounces. Crim took home the top co-angler 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 Toledo Bend Reservoir finished:

1st:        Tanner Crim, Castroville, Texas, 10 bass, 27-7, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd:       Luke Wyle, College Station, Texas, 11 bass, 24-12, $4,114
3rd:       Leavitt Hamilton, Gonzales, La., 11 bass, 22-9, $3,291
4th:        Sakae Ushio, Tonawanda, N.Y., eight bass, 21-12, $2,880
5th:        Robert Davis, Lufkin, Texas, eight bass, 21-8, $2,468
6th:        William Easley, Pollok, Texas, 11 bass, 21-4, $2,057
7th:        Korby Friday, Elizabeth, La., eight bass, 19-10, $1,646
8th:        Errol Sigue, Jeanerette, La., nine bass, 19-6, $1,440
9th:        Alejandro Rodriguez, San Antonio, Texas, nine bass, 18-11, $1,234
10th:     Justin Overstreet, Brookeland, Texas, eight bass, 18-4, $1,029

Jimmy Wells, Jr., of Collinsville, Illinois, earned Tuesday’s $150 Big Bass co-angler award with a 6-pound, 12-ounce fish, while the Wednesday’s Day 2 $150 co-angler award went to Neil Raedel of Taylor Surly of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who caught a 6-pound, 8-ounce bass.

After two events in the 2024 Toyota Series Southwestern Division, Cole Moore of Anacoco, Louisiana, leads the Fishing Clash Southwestern Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 516 points, while Sakae Ushio of Tonawanda, New York, leads the Fishing Clash Southwestern Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 516 points.