Lakecaster Online

The Stump and the BassMaster
By Ed Snyder

Lake Sam Rayburn, TX.

"I fell in love with bass fishing at the age of three after catching a bass from an Oklahoma farm pond, stated the three time National BassMaster titlelist, "which was probably when the bass bug first bit me, "and now, at the age of 35, I'm enjoying a B.A.S.S. tournament pro/career and living a lifestyle which is often dreamt about, but seldom realized.

Living and working on such a great lakes as Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend often provides this writer/angler with many opportunities to meet and fish with some of the finest fishermen and tournament anglers who visit "Big Sam" or "Big T" to enjoy some quality bass fishing. On this day I met up with Bud Pruitt, of Spring, TX, who, along with Sam Rayburn businessman, fellow bass angler, and owner/proprietor of the very popular "Stump Restaurant & Private Club", Mike Taylor, would provide my notebook marks for this fishing article.

"My first experience with fishing Lake Sam Rayburn, Bud Pruitt began, "was after I joined the "Bass Seekers of Spring" bass club in Spring, TX, at the age of fifteen. "And I must say, Pruitt added, "that I fell in love with the lake and have been fishing Rayburn ever since, which is also where I first started fishing the BassMaster tour at the age of twenty three after BassCat Boats became the catalyst for my pro/fishing career.

This "Stump & BassMaster" story began as a late afternoon fishing trip on Lake Sam Rayburn, where, under almost perfect Fall weather conditions, we were provided with some incredible "October-fest" outdoor scenery that embraced us with warm sunny skies and light southeasterly breezes with awesome Autumn colors.

"I've qualified for three BassMaster World Classics, Bud Pruitt informed, "the 1995 Classic at Lake High Rock, NC, the 1996 Classic at Lay Lake, AL, and the 2001 Classic at New Orleans, LA, as well as winning three National BASS events and qualifying for three All American Championships. "And I feel very fortunate to have been able to fish and compete on the National BASS tour these past many years, "as I must thank my Mom & Dad and family for providing me the support I needed to do this.

"I took the 1995 win for the Rayburn BASS Central Invitational with a two-day catch of 10 bass/53 lbs, Bud informed, "winning it with a lipless crank-bait pattern around Hwy 147 bridge area little bays that had drains with scattered grass-clumps, and then repeated my Rayburn BASS Invitational win again in 2000 by fishing the same lipless crank-bait pattern within little bays that had drains and grass-clumps, but in a different area of the lake.

"I moved up to Rayburn in 1999, Pruitt stated, "and met Mike Taylor soon after, where we quickly became fishing buddies and great friends. "Sure did, Pruitt agreed, "we met at "The Stump", or the "Mecca" for bass tournament anglers, Pruitt quickly corrected, "where "serious" bass anglers meet to eat and trade important bass fishing information.

"I took over the Stump Restaurant & Club in March of '99, Mike Taylor noted, "where, after looking over the business for almost a year, "I exited my Oil Refinery tedium and entered a much better lifestyle along this wonderful shoreline of Lake Sam Rayburn. "We cater to the fishermen, Mike informed, "where the locals and weekenders can stop in for great home-style meals and relax for a bit before going out on the lake. "We also cater to the bass circuits as we open 4:am "early" whenever the tournament groups arrive here for their tournament events.

"The Stump", Bud noted to me, has become "THE" headquarters for most of the bass tournament groups who schedule their events here, "which includes the BassMasters! "Amen to that, Mike added, "The BassMasters provide our biggest week of the year as they come in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "We know what they want, Mike informed, "as we make sure that they have what they like, or maybe to just stop in for some hot coffee and some bass-chat before topping off their gas and tackle packs before launching into Rayburn for their daily tournament rounds.

"And for those cold "wintry" days of freezing rains and whipping blue-birds, Mike added, "we always try to provide them a "stick to your ribs" buffet of fresh "hot" chili or tasty seafood gumbo. "All of our food is hand prepared and cooked only after ordered, Mike stressed, "As we actively try to keep a menu that will please our customer choices.

"The lake peaked in 1997, Bud informed, "where we were enjoying a "super-bass" class fishery that provided 13, 14, 15, and 16 lb lunker bass, as well as 34 -lb to 44 -lb -5 bass tournament limits. "But then after a severe drought period with extreme heat indexes Rayburn was hit by the LMBV -(Largemouth Bass Virus)- that greatly affected the bass fishery by almost wiping out Rayburn's lunker bass population.

"This was a terrible time for all of us, Mike stated, "when our tournament weights dropped drastically from those previous 30 -plus- 5 bass stringers down to 10 -lb to 15 -lb tournament wins, with "kickers", which at one time intimidated the weigh-in scales with 10-lb to 13 -lb lunker class, down-sized to the 4 -lb to 5 - mid-class of bass.

"But there is now a "HUGE" population of bass in the lake right now, Bud alerted, "with plenty of 3 -lb to 4 -lb weighted tournament bass thriving in a healthy lake situation that has plenty of clean water and healthy grass to survive in. "And I predict that within two or three more years, Bud advised, "that Rayburn will begin providing a higher weight class of bass that will average within the 5 -lb to 6 -lb range, with plenty of 8 -lb to 10 -lb "kicker-bass" for our lunker bass weights.

"I feel that the upcoming BassMaster event, scheduled at Twin Dikes Marina on Rayburn for February 21, 22, 23, Bud predicted, "to be typically a pre-spawn pattern with a lipless crank-bait win "if" the lake is low, or a soft-plastic win if Rayburn is at a higher level. "And, Bud added, "February is typically a big bass month for Rayburn and I'm expecting to see some daily twenty pound 5/bass limits with some heavy 8 -lb to 10 -lb "kicker-bass" to come across the BassMaster stage during their three BASS weigh-in days.

"I arrived here at Rayburn just after the LMBV kill, Mike advised, "and saw, and heard the frustrations of the anglers about their low weight tournaments, "but most of my customers who fish this lake a lot are now saying "three more years" and Rayburn will be back to its "awesome" self again. "I agree with Mike, Pruitt added, "As I too feel that Rayburn will shine once again as a premium Lunker lake for the bass anglers.

"I'm really looking forward to catering to the BassMasters when they come here this February for their National even, Mike informed, "As I really expect to see solid 25 -lb or 30 -lb stringer weight at their event this year. "And, Mike finalized, if "I", Mike Taylor, can go out on Rayburn and catch 4 -lb to 5 -lb bass during my weekly fishing trips, "I personally feel that "ANYONE" can catch them!… "And I say AMEN to THAT, Bud Pruitt chortled in response with a playful, but knowing grin!"

Bud Pruitt is sponsored by BassCat Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Lucky Strike Baits, Castaway Rods & Reels, Wife, Family "and" 13-month-old "Olivia".

"Welcome BassMasters, Mike Taylor applauded, "and God Bless America, Bud Pruitt added!!!"

For information on the Stump Restaurant & Club contact Mike Taylor at (409)-698-9495 and for information on the upcoming BassMaster tournament contact the Jasper Chamber of Commerce at (409)-384-2762 -or- Twin Dikes Marina at (409)-698-2696.

Mike Taylor liplanding a good bass for Bud Pruitt

Bass/Pro Bud Pruitt "BassCatting" Lake Sam Rayburn
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Fishin' pals, Mike Taylor and Bud Pruitt having fun with their Rayburn bass catch

Bud Pruitt displaying a nice "keeper" bass

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