American Fly Fishing

Keep Your Eye on the Prize
By John E. Wood

Toledo Bend Reservoir, TX/LA

Captain Stephen Stubbe steers his boat along a creek channel while James Dionizio works a fast-sinking fly along the edges of submerged brush. Toledo Bend is essentially a flooded forest that is surrounded by forest. Nearly the entire lake offers fish-holding cover in the form of submerged brush and trees. Photo by John E. Wood

Cruising the back reaches of Palo Gaucho Bayou on Toledo Bend Reservoir, I could feel the tensions of rushing to get there melt away, slowly replaced by the familiar feeling of anticipation that new water brings, especially when it’s an unfamiliar habitat.

The backwater reaches of Toledo Bend are like few other habitats; to me, the place exuded something akin to a primordial amusement park. The hardwoods, having just dropped their spring buds and flowers, were coming into new leaf. The scene was far different from the cityscapes James Dionizio and I had vacated earlier that morning. We had rendezvoused around noon at Harborlight Marina and Resort, located mid-lake on the Texas side. The well-kept, comfortable collection of varied accommodations, a boat launch, and mooring options situated on the edge of Sunshine Bay was a perfect jumping-off point for our introduction to that arm of this massive impoundment that straddles the Texas–Louisiana border.

Traveling from opposite directions, Dionizio from the south and me from north, we arrived within minutes of each other and quickly shook off the frustration of negligible cellphone reception and unnecessary attempts to coordinate our arrival. The thick piney woods covering the undulating terrain around Toledo Bend offered a rewarding contrast to and welcome respite from our city lives, but the rural scenery is not conducive to the radio waves we’ve grown accustomed to for instant communication. But we hadn’t come for the local radio waves, we had come to chase largemouth bass on one of the most productive big-bass lakes in the country.