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Tournament Statistics at Sam Rayburn Reservoir
By Todd Driscoll
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


Management of the largemouth bass fishery at Sam Rayburn Reservoir is a high priority of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and rightly so. Our angler surveys indicate that during the last 3 years, 60 - 70% of Sam Rayburn anglers target largemouth bass. Therefore, we monitor the largemouth bass population every year with our traditional sampling methods (electrofishing and angler creel surveys) to ensure our current regulations and bass stockings are producing the highest quality bass fishing possible. Over a year ago I started using tournament results as a cost-effective way to increase the amount of information to base management decisions, especially information from larger bass.

Results were obtained from organizations with data available via the Internet. To prevent biased results from small tournaments, I only included those with > 50 individuals or teams. Summary tournament variables include average catch rate, average bass weight, average total weights of 1st - 3rd places, percent of anglers with weights > 15 pounds, percent of anglers weighing at least one fish, percent of anglers with limits, average big bass weight, and average hours to catch a bass > 8 pounds. After summarizing the first year of the program, it was obvious that bass anglers (both tournament and non-tournament) would find the results interesting.

From June 2003 - May 2004, a total of 11,047 bass were weighed in from 24 (9 individual and 15 team) tournaments with > 50 participants at Sam Rayburn (big bass tournaments excluded), which included 37 bass over 8 pounds. The total number of bass over 8 pounds weighed in was actually higher than this, because not all fish over 8 pounds are weighed individually if much larger fish are already weighed for big bass. Catch rates of legal-sized bass were 0.34 fish/hour and 0.35 fish/hour for individual and team tourneys, respectively. As one would predict, average weight of each fish weighed in was higher for team tourneys (2.7 pounds) than individual tourneys (2.4 pounds). Average total weights of 1st - 3rd places were also higher for team than individual tourneys, but not as much as most would predict (Team tourneys: 1st = 22.2 pounds, 2nd = 20.3 pounds, 3rd = 18.8 pounds; Individual tourneys: 1st = 20.6 pounds, 2nd = 19.0 pounds, 3rd = 17.5 pounds).

Eleven percent of team tourney anglers weighed in total weights > 15 pounds, compared to 5% of individual tourney anglers. The percent of anglers not weighing in any fish is a biased variable, because many anglers with low weights do not weigh them in, but estimates were 21% for team tourney anglers and 14% for individual tourney anglers. Again, as you would expect, the percent of team anglers with limits (45%) was higher than for individual anglers (29%) and the average big bass weight was higher for team (9.4 pounds) than individual anglers (8.2 pounds). The last summary variable (average hours to catch a bass > 8 pounds) will surprise some. Although Sam Rayburn is known for producing a fair number of fish this size, on average it took individual tourney anglers 1,754 hours and team anglers 500 hours to catch a bass > 8 pounds. Looked at another way using 9 hours for tourney day length, individual and team tourney anglers on average would weigh in a fish > 8 pounds for every 195 and 56 events, respectively. Again, these statistics on fish > 8 pounds are slightly biased as stated above, but certainly get us in the ballpark.

This program will allow TPWD to more effectively monitor the abundance of larger bass at Sam Rayburn by comparing the above statistics across years as more data is obtained. Due to the success at Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend was incorporated into this program in June 2004. Contact us with questions or concerns about area fisheries by phone (409-384-9572) or email ( Good luck and good fishing!

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