Lake Sam Rayburn

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Bolton Earns His First Career Victory


Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at:

After fishing the FLW Tour for 23 years, competing in his 168th career event, Rapala pro Terry Bolton of Benton, Kentucky, finally got it done. Bolton earned his first career victory in a dramatic final-day weigh-in Monday at the FLW Tour at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Polaris after bringing a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 6 ounces to the scale. Bolton’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 91-3 earned him the victory by a 12-ounce margin over second-place pro Nick LeBrun of Bossier City, Louisiana, and the $125,000 first-place prize.

“This is pretty big for me,” said Bolton, a 13-time FLW Cup qualifier. “I was going to retire at the end of last year, but my wife talked me into coming back. I didn’t think that I’d ever see this moment and today, it finally happened. This is only 30 years in the making right here.”

Bolton caught most of his fish throughout the event – including his entire 33-pound, 9-ounce Day Two limit – in an area that he described as a drain or void in a grassline. He said the key for him was working his crankbaits at different depths around the grasslines.

“I threw a Rapala DT10 (demon), DT14 (demon) and DT16 (Caribbean shad) to make sure that I could hit the different depths,” Bolton said. “I had one drain that was really special that I found at 3:30 on the last day of practice. I idled across it and saw them all on the depth finder, made two casts and caught a 6-pounder and a 2½-pounder. I left right away and didn’t really know what was there.

“I caught 20 pounds, 10 ounces there the first day and left it at 12:30,” Bolton continued. “Then, I pulled in the next day and got up to 27-28 pounds and was going to leave but I was afraid that a local boat would get in there. I decided to stay and then, lo and behold, I catch the 9-8 and end up weighing in 33 pounds. I don’t know if you call it dumb luck or a good decision, but staying there Friday is what won me this tournament.”

Bolton said that he also mixed in a chartreuse and white-colored ¾-ounce Accent Lures spinnerbait with double-willow blades to catch a couple of keepers throughout the week. He credited his 7-foot, 11-inch Lew’s rod paired with a Lew’s BB1 Pro reel as being crucial to his success.

“That Lew’s crankbait rod and reel combo is truly the best on the planet,” Bolton said. “The key for me was definitely the crankbaits. I had to put the bait just above them in order to get bit.”

The top 10 pros on Sam Rayburn Reservoir finished:
1st: Rapala pro Terry Bolton, Benton, Ky., 20 bass, 91-3
2nd: Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 20 bass, 90-7
3rd: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 88-13
4th: Chad Warren, Sand Springs, Okla., 20 bass, 83-13
5th: Evinrude pro Jim Tutt, Longview, Texas, 20 bass, 78-7
6th: Colby Schrumpf, Highland, Ill., 20 bass, 70-7
7th: Jordan Osborne, Longview, Texas, 20 bass, 67-10
8th: Tom Redington, Royse City, Texas, 20 bass, 67-10
9th: Sam George, Athens, Ala., 15 bass, 67-10
10th: Charles Sim, Nepean, Ontario, Canada, 19 bass, 60-2

Complete results for the entire field can be found at
Overall there were 49 bass weighing 160 pounds, 6 ounces caught by pros Monday. Nine of the final 10 pros weighed in five-bass limits.

Photo courtesy FLW


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Lake Sam Rayburn Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 7/17: 164.78 (+0.38)

Lake Sam Rayburn Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 17)

Water stained; 85–89 degrees; 0.49’ high. Black bass are fair on watermelon Rat–L–Traps and shad colored crankbaits. White bass are fair on minnows and Li’l Fishies. Crappie are good on minnows over brush piles in 15–30 feet. Bream are slow. Catfish are good on trotlines baited with live bait and liver.