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Bass in the Forest

Situated on the Texas-Louisiana border, the sprawling Toledo Bend reservoir is home to thousands of acres of drowned forest, a haven teeming with large mouth bass. This natural spectacle has become an exciting mecca for fishermen, drawing in renowned anglers like fly fisherman Leon Martush. While many find fly fishing to be challenging, Leon’s expert use of perfectly balanced tackle—rod, reel, and line—has simplified the art and made it accessible to anyone with proper rhythm and timing. Joining Leon on a visit to Toledo Bend is Dick Cotis, a nationally known bait casting expert. When bass lie deep, Dick utilizes a deep-running lure, while a floating lure tied directly to the line without a snap is used when the bass are near the surface. Catching bass on surface lures produces a tremendously dramatic sport, and accuracy is crucial as these big bass like to hide beside dead trees, unable to resist the gurgling popping sound of a well-placed lure.

Leon employs a similar type of lure for his fly rod, taking in line with quick, short hauls to make the lure pop and splash, enticing the bass with its rubber legs. With the bass active at the surface, the fishing is fast-paced and exhilarating. Dick keeps his lure working, always eager for more action, and he is rewarded with excitement. The guide, Roy Hill, anticipates the next catch and expertly lands a fat, deep, and muscled forest bass—a trophy to be proud of. Leon, too, enjoys plenty of action as the bass plunge deep and put up a fierce fight. As the day goes on, the stringer is filled with bass, perfect for a fish fry back at camp. With thrilling adventures like these, it is easy to forget that time is passing, but the descending sun and the return of a bittern to its evening roost signal the end of a day well spent. Excitement and anticipation rise for another day of friendly fishing competition as Dick and Leon decide to fish together in the same boat, fully aware that more action and lively encounters await them in the drowned forests of Toledo Bend.

Bass in the Forest

The thrill of fishing in a drowned forest can be an unparalleled experience for avid anglers. The serene beauty of a forest submerged in water creates an ethereal atmosphere that adds an extra dimension of excitement to the adventure. In this article, we will delve into the art of bass fishing in a forest setting, exploring various techniques and strategies employed by renowned fishing experts. From fly fishing techniques to bait casting strategies, we will uncover the secrets to success in this unique and challenging fishing environment.

Bass in the Forest

The Thrill of Fishing in a Drowned Forest

Imagine sitting on a small boat, surrounded by towering trees partially submerged in water. The lush green foliage creates a surreal backdrop as you cast your line into the murky depths below. The anticipation builds as you wait for a bass to strike, feeling the adrenaline rush through your veins. This is the thrill of fishing in a drowned forest – a thrilling and unforgettable experience for any angler.

The unique conditions of a drowned forest provide an ideal habitat for bass. The submerged trees and vegetation create hiding places for these elusive creatures, making them ambushing masters. The challenge lies in finding the perfect fishing spots and employing the right techniques to entice the bass out of their hidden lairs.

Fly Fishing Techniques with Leon Martush

Fly fishing is an art that requires finesse, precision, and patience. When it comes to fishing in a drowned forest, Leon Martush, a seasoned angler and fly fishing expert, has some invaluable advice to offer. According to Martush, success lies in understanding the bass’s feeding patterns and using imitative-fly techniques to mimic their prey.

To effectively fly fish in a forest setting, Martush recommends using lightweight flies that resemble the insects found in the area. By presenting a realistic and enticing fly, anglers can lure bass to strike. Patience is key in fly fishing, as it may take several attempts and careful presentation to attract these cunning predators.

Bait Casting Expert Dick Cotis’ Strategies

For anglers who prefer bait casting, Dick Cotis, an esteemed expert in the field, shares his strategies for fishing in a drowned forest. Cotis emphasizes the importance of accuracy and precision when casting in tight spaces between trees and vegetation.

To effectively bait cast in a forest, Cotis suggests using lightweight lures that mimic the natural prey of bass. He advises anglers to cast close to submerged structures and fallen trees, as these are prime hiding spots for bass. By accurate casting and careful retrieval, Cotis believes that success is within reach for any angler seeking bass in a drowned forest.

Surface Lure Action: Excitement and Drama

One of the most thrilling aspects of fishing in a drowned forest is the explosive surface strikes that can occur when using topwater lures. The heart-pounding action of a bass breaking the surface to grab a lure creates an electrifying moment that is both exciting and dramatic.

Anglers skilled in using surface lures can generate this adrenaline-inducing response from the bass. By employing techniques such as “walk the dog” or “pop and stop,” anglers can create irresistible action on the water’s surface, enticing bass to strike with ferocity. The visual spectacle and heart-stopping moments make surface lure fishing an experience unlike any other.

Proper Techniques for Handling and Unhooking Bass

When landing bass in a drowned forest, it is essential to handle them with care to ensure their survival after catch and release. Improper handling can lead to unnecessary stress and potential harm to these remarkable fish.

To properly handle bass, anglers should wet their hands to reduce the fish’s slime removal, which can protect them from diseases. Using a landing net with knotless mesh can also minimize injury to the fish. It is crucial to remove hooks gently and efficiently, ensuring minimal damage to the bass’s delicate mouth and surrounding tissue. By employing proper techniques for handling and unhooking bass, anglers can contribute to the conservation of these magnificent creatures.

Guide’s Expertise: Navigating the Watery Forest Trails

Navigating the watery forest trails of a drowned forest requires skill and knowledge. Local guides who specialize in fishing these unique environments possess invaluable expertise that can make or break an angler’s success.

Experienced guides excel in identifying the optimal fishing spots based on factors such as water depth, vegetation cover, and current flow patterns. They can interpret the behavior and movements of the bass, allowing anglers to adjust their fishing techniques accordingly. With a guide’s expertise, anglers can navigate the watery forest trails with confidence, maximizing their chances of landing a trophy bass.

Timber Fishing: Skillful Bait Casting Techniques

Timber fishing, or targeting bass around submerged timber, demands skillful bait casting techniques. The intricate network of branches and limbs can make it challenging to present a lure accurately and avoid snagging. However, with the right approach, anglers can entice bass out of their timber hideouts.

Successful timber fishing involves choosing the appropriate bait, casting accurately, and retrieving the lure in a lifelike manner. Experienced anglers recommend using jigs or soft plastic lures that mimic crawfish or other forage found in submerged timber. By delivering precise casts and maneuvering the lure effectively, anglers can overcome the obstacles and tempt the bass to strike.

The Importance of Accuracy in Forest Bass Fishing

In a drowned forest, where fishing spots are often limited and surrounded by dense vegetation, accuracy plays a crucial role in hooking bass. Whether fly fishing or bait casting, precise casting is essential to reach the desired target areas close to submerged structures.

Practicing accuracy is beneficial for anglers looking to improve their forest bass fishing skills. Techniques such as target casting and pitching can enhance accuracy, allowing anglers to place their lures precisely where bass are hiding. By honing their casting abilities, anglers can increase their chances of enticing more strikes and netting impressive catches.

The Growth and Strength of Bass in Toledo Bend Reservoir

Toledo Bend Reservoir, a renowned fishing destination, is home to an extraordinary bass population renowned for its size and strength. The drowned forest within the reservoir provides an ideal habitat for bass to thrive and grow to remarkable sizes.

The submerged trees and abundant prey species in Toledo Bend Reservoir contribute to the bass’s growth and robustness. The availability of food sources and optimal living conditions allow the bass to reach exceptional sizes and exhibit formidable fighting capabilities. Anglers who venture into the drowned forest of Toledo Bend Reservoir are presented with the opportunity to test their skills against these legendary bass.


Fishing in a drowned forest presents a unique and exciting challenge for anglers. Whether utilizing fly fishing techniques, bait casting strategies, or surface lures, success in this environment requires skill, finesse, and adaptability. Understanding the behavior of bass in a forest setting, employing proper handling techniques, and seeking guidance from experienced local experts can significantly enhance the fishing experience. So, pack your gear, explore the drowned forests, and embark on a thrilling adventure in pursuit of bass.

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