By David A. Brown

BROOKELAND, Texas — If it worked once it should work again: That philosophy  delivered the win for Tommy Hill and Bubba Frazier, who topped the first of two back-to-back Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s events at Lake Sam Rayburn with a 5-bass limit that weighed 22.91 pounds.

Fishing the mid-lake region, the anglers from Tyler, Texas started their day targeting a creek drop in about 5 feet of water. Slinging a Carolina rig with a Zoom Super Fluke in the California 420 color, Frazier tempted his team’s biggest fish — a 7.48 — on their first cast. About 5 hours later, lightning struck twice and Frazier added a 6-pounder on the same spot.

Frazier said recent rains have raised Rayburn’s water level about two feet in the past week and a half. This, he said, has created tough conditions and displaced fish.

“We’re on the water a lot and we had these areas that we knew were good, but then it got muddy and shut them down,” Frazier said. “It cleared up and the right fish were there.”

Hill said he believes the rising water has also made it difficult to stay on top of the spawning cycle. “I think there are probably still a few on beds, but I think it’s mostly postspawn. I bed fish a lot, but you can’t hardly stay with them with the lake coming up like it is.”

After their morning bite faded, the winners transitioned to a more active strategy of targeting main lake hay grass with 7/16-ounce Santone swim jigs. Using Reaction Innovations Skinny Dippers in the white trash color, their mid-morning plan was one of mobility.

“We put the trolling motor on 50 percent and covered a lot of water,” Frazier said. “We did better with the swim jigs when the wind was blowing.”

Around 12:30, Hill and Frazier decided to revisit their starting spot. The plan was to show up, eat a quick lunch and then focus on fishing. Frazier said a sudden interruption was most welcome.

“We were going to eat deer sausage wrap-ups, but I took one bite of my sandwich, I got a bite on my Carolina rig, set the hook and it was that second big fish,” Frazier said. “It was about the same cast that I made for the first fish.

“We’re old guys; we’re not going to go hungry on the water. We’re going to eat and Carolina rig and hope one bites while we’re eating.”

Noting that he and Frazier caught 15-20 keepers, Hill said they added their last limit fish — a 3 1/2-pounder — at 12:30. After that, they leisurely made their way back toward the weigh in site and allowed themselves a comfortable travel window.

“We quit an hour and 15 minutes (early) and then we just finished up around the ramp,” Hill said. “We knew that over 22 1/2 pounds would get a good check. We didn’t think it would win, but we didn’t want to be way up the lake and not be able to get back because of motor trouble or whatever.”

For their efforts Hill and Frazier earned a Nitro Z18 with a 150 Mercury ProXS. In addition, they claimed $2,445 of Anglers Advantage cash. Their total payday was $36,040.

Moorhead-Moorhead second

Jason Moorhead and Ty Moorhead found four of their five spots unfishable, but settling on one key area, they sacked up the second-place limit of 18.89 pounds. The Moorheads anchored their bag with a 7.23.

Jason Moorhead said they ran up the Attoyac arm and fished clay points with scattered stumps in 14-16 feet of water. It took them a while to dial in their search, but once they eliminated the unproductive areas, they got their work done in about two hours.

“We had five spots selected, but the mud (from recent rains) has been steadily working downstream and it blew out four of our spots,” Jason said. “We finally got on our last spot and caught our fish between 10 and 12.”

The Moorheads caught their fish on Carolina rigs with a fluke style baits in the watermelon red magic color on a 4-foot leader. Slowly dragging their baits through a saddle was the key.

For second place, the Moorheads won $7,393, which included $1,793 of Anglers Advantage cash.

Little-Shelman third

Shifting gears from practice paid off for John Little and Daniel Shelman who caught the third-place limit of 18.25 pounds. After starting their morning throwing spinnerbaits in Alligator Creek, Little and Shelman moved to Five Fingers Bay and Carolina rigged watermelon red lizards with the tails dyed chartreuse.

Little said they found the event’s biggest fish — an 8.66 — on a long point. With the rising water, the fish was in about 10 feet, but Little said its bloody tail likely indicated a spawner.

The anglers also picked up a keeper near the entrance to Little Caney Creek and ended their day on the rock islands in front of the takeoff area. The latter yielded three good culls, including their second-biggest fish — a 3 3/4-pounder. Carolina rigs produced all of their fish.

Noting that he had been on a good flipping bite in practice, Little said he made the call Thursday night to change strategies. Using Garmin Livescope and Humminbird 360 to carefully read the bottom allowed him and Shelman to pinpoint their target areas and avoid bogging in hydrilla.

“I didn’t feel like (flipping bushes) was gong to be good enough today,” Little said. “With the water coming up, the bank is so far back I don’t think you can reach some of the places the fish are. I just made a change and was a good change.”

For third place, Little and Shelman won $6,860, which included $1,630 of Anglers Advantage cash, a $250 Ranger Boats bonus, a $500 electronics bonus and the $1,120 Big Bass bonus.

Wilson-Flowers fourth, Waguspack-Lloyd fifth

Kris Wilson and Brandon Flowers weighed five bass worth 18.18 pounds, taking fourth place and earning $3,626. Behind them was Anthony Waguspack and Jimmy Lloyd with 17.32 pounds. For fifth place, they earned $2,903.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 teams:

6th: Lance Robelia—Cody Pratka – 16.78

7th: Brian Shook — Danny Iles – 16.74

8th: Tony Rogers — Ed Klobas – 15.76

9th: Alton Powell-Bill Powell – 15.49

10th: Nathan Prine-Mike Scalise – 15.28Full Results