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Miller tops Toyota Series event at Rayburn

Miller tops Toyota Series event at Rayburn

BROOKELAND, Texas – Big up-and-down days are commonplace on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and consistency doesn’t win as much as it does other places. Of course, it can win if you just mash the pedal to the floor the whole time, which is what Colby Miller opted to do.

Hammering out 27 pounds, 4 ounces on Day 1, Miller followed it up with 24-15 and 25-4 on Days 2 and 3, respectively, to tally 77-7 for the win at the Toyota Series Southwestern Division opener. The 24-year-old took home $72,809, including the Phoenix MLF Bonus, for the win.

Winning with a 14-14 margin, Miller dominated the event, and he did it off several places and with a lot of good decisions, using all his considerable skills and Texas knowledge.

Each morning, he started on a one-cast grass spot.

“It’s a little depression in the grass; I think it’s only an early morning deal,” he said. “All three days I went back midday, and only yesterday I was able to get bit. It’s a one-cast deal. I could see them sitting in the little depression on LiveScope – it was just getting them to bite. Today, it was slick calm, and I pulled out a wacky rig and was able to get some to bite.”

Most mornings, he plucked them with a Strike King Hybrid Hunter or a vibrating jig, running the bait repeatedly though a key area that was half a foot deeper than the rest of the grass bed.

“It’s grass, but very dirty water – you really had to get it on their nose,” he said. “Making the same cast over and over was key. I spent at least an hour there every morning. If I got lucky, I caught a big one, but it would settle me down and get me a limit.”

On Day 1, Miller mixed things up and even plucked a big one he found suspended on a tree in practice. On the latter two days, he caught his big ones in fairly shallow staging areas, laying the wood with an umbrella rig and a 6th Sense Crush 300DD. Fishing places with stumps and grass near spawning areas, Miller concentrated in 6 to 12 feet and “saw” most of his big ones on LiveScope.

On Day 3, after a lackluster start, his staging program got him right.

“My starting spot kind of went dry on me,” said Miller of the final day. “I caught four there – like three 3-pounders and a 1 1/2. Then, I ran a couple spots and went to where I’ve been waiting for them to pull in all week. They were there in practice. I caught a 6 and had an 8 at the side of the boat. In practice, I saw four or five great big ones swimming around. Since then, it’s just been buck bass. I knew with the full moon coming, the weather being 80, I knew they were coming. I just hoped that they made it before the tournament ended.

“Today, when I rolled in, I didn’t make it no piece,” he said. “I saw the first one, caught it, it was a 6 1/2. Then, I got to the little stretch they normally hang up at, and as soon as I got to it, I caught another right at 6, and then another.”

Fishing the Pro Circuit or the Invitationals since 2020, Miller did well around the house in his teens, though it took him a while to see success nationally – his first two years on tour saw him bank triple-digit finishes. In 2023, things began to turn his way, and the Toledo Bend crappie guide has been on fire since the Toyota Series Championship on Table Rock.

Since a BFL win this winter, he’s fished to the peak of his talents.

“I’ve never been a winner, ever,” he said. “I’ve just been a so-so, middle-of-the-pack kind of guy. Ever since I won that BFL, it’s changed my game. It changed my mindset, ever since then, I don’t go looking for a check. I go looking for a win.”

Still, win No. 2 didn’t come easy, as Miller’s second staging spot of the day knocked him off his roll in a big way.

“When I pulled in there today, there were giants everywhere swimming around,” he said. “I hooked two big ones and lost them both, and I literally thought I lost my shot right there. The rest of the day, I couldn’t do anything right. I’d make a short cast at a big one, or land on top of it; I couldn’t do anything right.”

But, about halfway through weigh-in, an emotional Miller realized things might have actually turned his way.

“I really started doubting myself,” said Miller of his early national experience. “I just continuously put 110-percent of effort in, and tried my hardest every time. And now it’s paying off.”

Here are the final totals for the Top 10:

1st: Colby Miller, Elmer, La., 15 bass, 77-7, $72,809 (includes $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
2nd: Wyatt Fankens, Corrigan, Texas, 15 bass, 62-9, $14,651
3rd: Chad Mrazek, Montgomery, Texas, 15 bass, 60-8, $11,343
4th: Cole Moore, Anacoco, La., 15 bass, 60-7, $9,452
5th: Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colo., 15 bass, 57-8, $8,507
6th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 15 bass, 57-0, $8,062
7th: Levi Thibodaux, Thibodaux, La., 15 bass, 56-13, $6,617
8th: Brett Clark, Center, Texas, 15 bass, 56-8, $5,671
9th: Blake Schroeder, Whitehouse, Texas, 15 bass, 56-2, $4,726
10th: Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 15 bass, 55-10, $3,781

Kaden Mueck of Livinsgston, Texas, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Wednesday with a bass weighing 8-11. On Thursday, Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, earned the prize after bringing a 10-12 bass to the scale.

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