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Sensory overload on Toledo Bend

by Minden Press-Herald

It might take awhile for me to thank everybody responsible for making my recent trip to Toledo Bend a resounding success.

I’ll start with thanking Johnny Wessler, Executive Director for Louisiana North, a marketing company that promotes tourism for 29 north Louisiana parishes. Fortunately for me, I was on the list of outdoor writers invited to visit several lakes around north Louisiana to sample what each lake has to offer.

My trip with several other outdoor writers began in late October last year when we spent time on Lake Claiborne, Caddo Lake and Caney Lake. Our final destination, Toledo Bend, was a wash-out. Heavy rains postponed the trip, which was rescheduled for last week.

A special thanks has to go out to Linda Curtis Sparks, Louisiana Director of Marketing for Toledo Bend. The arrangements she made were spectacular, including overnight arrangements on the lake at Cypress Bend, a posh resort that defies description.

Sparks was particularly excited and anxious to tell us that Toledo Bend was voted a year ago by Bass Master magazine as the number one bass lake in the United States.

“Last year, our lake produced 81 lunker bass, all over 10 pounds to put us over the top and beating out the other six lakes that were finalists. We are excited about the possibility of our winning the award back to back this year because it’s only May and already, Toledo Bend has produced 137 bass weighing at least 10 pounds each and we’ll probably exceed 150 fish weighing 10 pounds or better,” said Sparks.

Sparks arranged a tour of the lake for us, conducted by Gloria Thompson, who with her husband J.T. Thompson, own and operate Living the Dream guide service, one of the most productive guide operations in Louisiana.

The following morning, we were joined by Gloria’s son, Matt Loetscher, who is one of the eight full-time guides. Our quest was not for lunker bass but to try our hand at crappie fishing in this lake that, according to Gloria Thompson, produced for Living The Dream guide service a whopping 45,000 crappie last year. That translates into 90,000 of the best filets to be found anywhere.

Loetscher and each of the guides working for Living The Dream, make the fishing rather simple for the anglers that travel from California to Florida to sample the great crappie fishing Toledo Bend has to offer.

“We fish over brush piles that we build ourselves,” said Loetscher. “When we set a tree in the water, usually either a sweet gum or willow, we fasten a concrete block to the base as an anchor and at the top of the tree, we tie on a couple of empty gallon jugs for buoyancy to keep the tree upright. Then we put a GPS mark on the spot so that we can return to it. Last year, we put over 200 brush piles in the lake.”

I didn’t see any anchors on Loetscher’s pontoon boat but I learned there is no need to anchor.

“My trolling motor has a GPS built into it and it homes in on the brush pile and keeps the boat on top of the pile. Then it’s just a simple matter of dropping a shiner or jig to the brush where the fish are almost sure to be congregated,” he added.

Congregated they were because at virtually every brush pile we visited, we were kept busy hauling in crappie. In a couple of hours of fishing, we caught more than 40 quality fish.
So to Johnny Wessler, Linda Curtis Sparks, Gloria and J.T. Thompson, Matt Loetscher and all the other fine people who made our rain-delayed trip a memorable one, a great big thank you from the bottom of my heart.

(For more information on Louisiana North, visit louisiananorth.com; Linda Curtis Sparks at toledobendlakecountry.com; Living the Dream guide service at ltdguideservice.com)

Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden

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