By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor


Tim Reneau remembers when a 10-pound limit was considered a fine day's work and 13 pounds was revered as heroic at Lake Texoma.

How times have changed at the Red River reservoir that lies on the Texas-Oklahoma border.

After several brushes with victory in previous Texas EverStart tournaments, Reneau finally broke through last week at Texoma, where he hadn't wet a line in more than 5 years. And he did it in a way, at least partially, that’s proving to be virtually unbeatable when bass are in their pre-spawn mode: He threw an umbrella rig.

After nearly cracking 25 pounds on day 2 to climb into 2nd place, the Del Rio, Texas, resident hauled in 16-04 on the final day to run his total to 58-10 and beat Jeff Cade by about 3 1/2 pounds.

Between 2007-2012, Reneau collected seven Top-10s, including three runner-up finishes, in the Texas EverStart division, and while he doesn't fish the full slate of events each year, his winless streak was starting to gnaw at him.

"At other places, I had the bites to win, so it was kind of weighing on my mind a little," he said.

Reneau, who operates the Power Tackle rod company, said Texoma benefited from high-water conditions several years ago and its bass fishery really blossomed over the last few years.

"I don't know the actual story on what turned it around," he said. "I know they've had zebra mussels and the stripers are as good as ever. There's no cover in the lake other than floating docks so they can't hide on anything, so it's always been a low-weight deal.

"A few years back, I know they stocked some Florida-strain bass and a couple years after that, they had high water for a long period of time so the water was up in the bushes and they had stuff to hide on. I'm not sure if it's genetic or whatever, but over the last 2 years, they've been catching big sacks. I hadn't been there in 6 or 7 years."

Here's how he put the pieces together.

Practice

Reneau loves to fish docks, but knowing the wind was due to blow up to 30 miles per hour and that most of the field would likely target the limited number of marinas around the lake, he opted to scratch that strategy off his tournament prep checklist.

He also was aware a recent warming trend had likely prompted some fish to move onto beds to spawn, but didn't factor that into his game plan either.

"I knew they'd be looking at them and that's usually not my cup of tea," he said. "I was going in to look for out of the ordinary stuff on the main lake and pre-spawn fish, something different. I don't fish all of the tournaments, so when you do fish one, you have to fish to win as opposed to fishing for points."

He knew the umbrella rig was part of the reason tournament weights have been on the rise at Texoma so he picked one up to start practice and immediately caught a couple 4 1/2-pounders. After that, though, it tailed off.

"I don't have a lot of experience with it because they don't bite real good down where I'm from at Amistad or Falcon, but I got them ready," he said.

With the water level down 4 feet, he scoured the lake for as many off-the-beaten-path emergent brush piles as he could find.

"I went around and found as many of those as I could for the first day that were out of the way because if you throw a stick in the water there, there's going to be a 3- or 4-pounder on it," he said. "I knew they'd all get caught the first day."

Competition

> Day 1: 5, 17-09
> Day 2: 5, 24-13
> Day 3: 5, 16-04
> Total = 15, 58-10

Strong northeast winds greeted the field on day 1 and Reneau got off to a strong start, or so he thought. His all-largemouth sack included a couple decent fish caught on the umbrella rig. He caught the others combing over isolated wood with a square-bill crankbait.

"I caught them early and had about 17 1/2 pounds and thought that would definitely be enough to be in the Top 10, but it wasn't," he said. "I was real surprised at the weights."

Five of his competitors brought in 20-pound stringers and Reneau found himself in 13th, nearly 10 pounds behind day-1 leader Troy Lindner, who'd caught a whopping 27-08.

With the wind persisting into day 2, Reneau picked up that the fish had slid out a little deeper. He started the day working the umbrella rig, but found the fish would hit it rather than eat the baits. By 8:30, he picked up a big swimbait, which had produced in practice, and proceeded to lose the first two fish he loaded up on.

"I added a stinger hook and then it was a pretty magical day," he said. "I probably threw back six 3 1/2-pounders."

Later in the day, he went back to the umbrella rig because the windy conditions made it difficult to fish the swimbait effectively. His last two upgrades came on the U-rig. His 24-13 bag consisted of four largemouths and a 4 1/2-pound smallmouth.

"The big key that day was the first two fish I lost had me under the trolling motor," he said. "I had the boat in 10 to 12 feet and they followed the rig up and got (the swimbait) right under the boat. I moved out a little and concentrated on 10 to 12 feet. I'd throw it up and let it sink for 3 seconds and reeled it back slow."

His giant bag moved him to 2nd entering the final day, just 1 1/2 pounds back of Lindner, whose weight had dipped more than 11 pounds from day 1. With the wind shifting around to the southeast, he employed a run-and-gun approach after his key spots from day 2 yielded only a 2 1/2-pounder early on.

"I basically ran back and froth across the lake," he said. "I burned three-quarters of a tank of gas. I ran more than I fished because with the wind blowing like it was, I couldn't go anywhere fast. I knew what they were on and I just had to drive until I saw it and fish it. I didn't crush them like I did the first day. I caught like six keepers and a couple of 4-pounders in there gave me 16."

Pattern Notes

> The presence of rock out away from shore was the key to the areas Reneau targeted around the lake. The wind seemed to take care of the rest.

FLW/David Brown
Photo: FLW/David Brown

While he weighed in mostly largemouths, Reneau tapped into Texoma's population of chunky smallmouth as well.

"I fished wind-blown banks, but the rocks had to extend all the way out," he said. "With the lake being low you can pull up to most rocky banks and the rocks go out to 2 or 3 feet and then it turns to sand. I would fish those banks, but wouldn't get bit."

Winning Gear Notes

> Umbrella rig gear: 7'11" medium-heavy Power Tackle swimbait/umbrella rig rod, Shimano Chronarch casting reel (6.3:1 gear ratio), 16-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, Strike King Tour Grade Titanium umbrella rig (blue gizzard shad), 3/4-oz. unnamed rubber-core sinker, 4/0 Owner Beast hook, 1/4-oz. Owner Darter Jig, 4- and 5-inch Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Swim'n Caffeine Shad (KVD magic or pearl).

> He Texas-rigged the smaller swimbaits on the four outside wires and hung the jighead with a 5-inch swimbait from the longer, middle wire. "They seemed to target that one the most," he said. Under cloudy skies, he used the KVD magic and went with pearl when the sun was out.

> To increase the sink rate of the rig, he squeezed the rubber-core sinker around the middle stem.

> He's a big fan of Strike King's rig because, "on the retrieve the titanium wires pull back so all of the baits bunch up like a little school," he said. "As soon as you stop reeling, they spread out like something scared them. It's going to be a big player."

> Swimbait gear: Same rod, reel and lin, 6" Jerry Rago SKT Pro Swimmer Inline (dark hitch).

> He also caught a few fish on a Strike King KVD HC 1.5 square-bill crankbait (neon bluegill), throwing it around bedding fish near the isolated wood he was targeting.

The Bottom Line

> Main factor in his success – "Looking for something a little different from what most people were doing and targeting pre-spawn fish. My practice wasn't really that productive, but little clues just kept coming."

> Performance edge – "This was the first time in the water for my new Ranger Z-520C. I broke it in during practice and I was really impressed. It was rough every day and that new model boat allows you to put a 12-inch touch screen in the front and the back. My Lowrance SideScan and DownScan were big keys as well seeing if those rocks, when I pulled up to those banks, continued out into the water."

Final Standings

> Field size: 77 boats

1. Tim Reneau -- Del Rio, Tx -- 17-09 (5) -- 24-13 (5) -- 16-04 (5) -- 58-10 (15) -- $24,657 + boat

2. Jeff Cade -- Richardson, Tx -- 22-00 (5) -- 17-06 (5) -- 15-13 (5) -- 55-03 (15) -- $9,246

3. Troy Lindner -- Los Angeles, Ca -- 27-08 (5) -- 16-06 (5) -- 10-03 (5) -- 54-01 (15) -- $6,164

4. Chris McCall -- Brookeland, Tx -- 17-14 (5) -- 17-05 (5) -- 17-06 (5) -- 52-09 (15) -- $5,548

5. Spencer McAlester -- Denison, Tx -- 18-12 (5) -- 18-13 (5) -- 14-13 (5) -- 52-06 (15) -- $4,931

6. Donnie O'Neal -- Pflugerville, Tx -- 17-03 (5) -- 14-12 (5) -- 18-04 (5) -- 50-03 (15) -- $4,315

7. Eric Wright -- Scurry, Tx -- 21-11 (5) -- 14-04 (5) -- 13-10 (5) -- 49-09 (15) -- $3,699

8. Rob Burns -- Plano, Tx -- 19-00 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 16-00 (5) -- 47-11 (15) -- $3,082

9. Stephen Johnston -- Hemphill, Tx -- 18-00 (5) -- 14-09 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 46-06 (15) -- $2,466

10. Chris Russell -- Montgomery, Tx -- 16-03 (5) -- 16-15 (5) -- 8-08 (3) -- 41-10 (13) -- $1,849

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3.

11. Todd Castledine -- Nacogdoches, Tx -- 15-05 (5) -- 16-04 (5) -- 31-09 (10) -- $1,541

12. Ray Hanselman -- Del Rio, Tx -- 17-01 (5) -- 14-06 (5) -- 31-07 (10) -- $1,541

13. Jonathan Simon -- Orange, Tx -- 15-05 (5) -- 16-01 (5) -- 31-06 (10) -- $1,541

14. Don McFarlin -- Gordonville, Tx -- 16-12 (5) -- 14-00 (5) -- 30-12 (10) -- $1,541

15. Phil Marks -- Dallas, Tx -- 17-04 (5) -- 13-02 (5) -- 30-06 (10) -- $1,541

16. Brandon Pedigo -- Durant, Ok -- 15-11 (5) -- 14-07 (5) -- 30-02 (10)

17. Andrew Upshaw -- Hemphill, Tx -- 15-15 (5) -- 14-02 (5) -- 30-01 (10)

18. Lamonte Loyd -- Gilmer, Tx -- 15-02 (5) -- 14-04 (5) -- 29-06 (10)

19. Dennis Matlock -- Collinsville, Tx -- 11-00 (5) -- 18-04 (5) -- 29-04 (10)

20. Joe Elkouri -- Lawton, Ok -- 14-04 (5) -- 14-07 (5) -- 28-11 (10)

21. Jim Tutt -- Longview, Tx -- 11-12 (5) -- 16-10 (5) -- 28-06 (10)

22. Austin Terry -- San Angelo, Tx -- 12-10 (5) -- 14-07 (4) -- 27-01 (9)

23. Shane Moore -- Argyle, Tx -- 13-12 (5) -- 13-01 (5) -- 26-13 (10)

24. Dillon Lee -- Mount Pleasant, Tx -- 20-03 (5) -- 6-05 (3) -- 26-08 (8)

25. Tommy Murray -- Bedford, Tx -- 11-02 (4) -- 15-02 (5) -- 26-04 (9)

26. Marco Vaca -- Ardmore, Ok -- 12-05 (5) -- 13-13 (5) -- 26-02 (10)

27. Dean Perkins -- Broaddus, Tx -- 18-15 (5) -- 6-15 (3) -- 25-14 (8)

28. Ryan Lovelace -- Denison, Tx -- 16-03 (5) -- 9-04 (4) -- 25-07 (9)

29. Johnny LeWallen -- San Marcos, Tx -- 7-00 (3) -- 18-06 (5) -- 25-06 (8)

30. Bruce Anderson -- Sherman, Tx -- 15-03 (5) -- 9-15 (4) -- 25-02 (9)

31. Bradley Hallman -- Norman, Ok -- 20-06 (5) -- 4-10 (2) -- 25-00 (7)

32. Mark Rouse -- League City, Tx -- 13-10 (5) -- 11-03 (4) -- 24-13 (9)

33. Michael Burns -- Lucas, Tx -- 12-13 (4) -- 11-13 (5) -- 24-10 (9)

34. Kevin Gressett -- Tioga, Tx -- 18-04 (5) -- 6-04 (3) -- 24-08 (8)

35. Bill Lee -- Harker Heights, Tx -- 11-02 (3) -- 12-15 (4) -- 24-01 (7)

36. Jeff Reynolds -- Calera, Ok -- 10-00 (4) -- 13-15 (5) -- 23-15 (9)

37. Denny Brauer -- Del Rio, Tx -- 13-00 (5) -- 10-14 (5) -- 23-14 (10)

38. Dave Parsons -- Yantis, Tx -- 11-02 (5) -- 12-09 (5) -- 23-11 (10)

39. Dustin Grice -- Hewitt, Tx -- 17-14 (5) -- 5-10 (3) -- 23-08 (8)

40. Jason Harper -- Montgomery, Tx -- 16-09 (5) -- 6-15 (3) -- 23-08 (8)

41. Wade Hudgens -- Longview, Tx -- 12-00 (5) -- 11-05 (5) -- 23-05 (10)

42. Justin Holder -- Denison, Tx -- 11-02 (5) -- 11-12 (5) -- 22-14 (10)

43. Gene Eisenmann -- Frisco, Tx -- 5-12 (3) -- 14-14 (5) -- 20-10 (8)

44. Alton Wilhoit -- Harrah, Ok -- 10-00 (5) -- 10-07 (5) -- 20-07 (10)

45. Terry Rose -- Eastland, Tx -- 10-09 (4) -- 9-09 (4) -- 20-02 (8)

46. Michael Williamson -- Fort Smith, Ar -- 13-00 (5) -- 6-15 (2) -- 19-15 (7)

47. Justin Dubose -- Grapevine, Tx -- 9-02 (5) -- 10-09 (5) -- 19-11 (10)

48. J.B. Young -- Deer Park, Tx -- 14-10 (5) -- 4-11 (2) -- 19-05 (7)

49. Dusty Schultz -- Willis, Tx -- 6-02 (2) -- 12-00 (5) -- 18-02 (7)

50. Benny Aylor -- Round Rock, Tx -- 7-14 (3) -- 10-04 (4) -- 18-02 (7)

51. David Mauldin -- Round Rock, Tx -- 13-12 (5) -- 3-12 (2) -- 17-08 (7)

52. Joe Bray -- Marble Falls, Tx -- 17-07 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 17-07 (5)

53. Jeromy Francis -- Magnolia, Tx -- 3-12 (1) -- 13-06 (5) -- 17-02 (6)

54. Dwayne Red McPeek -- Mc Kinney, Tx -- 9-09 (4) -- 6-09 (3) -- 16-02 (7)

55. Rick Hanna -- Hereford, Tx -- 7-14 (3) -- 7-00 (2) -- 14-14 (5)

56. Jesse Drain -- Moore, Ok -- 6-04 (3) -- 7-09 (3) -- 13-13 (6)

57. Zach Caudle -- Shreveport, La -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-10 (5) -- 13-10 (5)

58. Craig Workman -- Fort Worth, Tx -- 13-06 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 13-06 (5)

59. Rick Carter -- Alba, Tx -- 12-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 12-12 (5)

60. Michael Huckman -- Magnolia, Tx -- 5-00 (2) -- 6-14 (3) -- 11-14 (5)

61. Billy Cline -- Southlake, Tx -- 11-13 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-13 (5)

62. Randy Cisler -- Mesquite, Tx -- 11-12 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-12 (5)

63. Dale Stover -- Kingston, Ok -- 11-05 (5) -- 0-00 (0) -- 11-05 (5)

64. Joe Gerard -- Concordia, Ks -- 10-08 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 10-08 (2)

65. Chad Griffin -- Cresson, Tx -- 8-02 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 8-02 (3)

66. Gary Bowien -- Georgetown, Tx -- 4-11 (2) -- 2-08 (1) -- 7-03 (3)

67. Kenneth Chapman -- Odessa, Tx -- 5-00 (2) -- 1-12 (1) -- 6-12 (3)

68. Bill Glascock -- Kingston, Ok -- 6-00 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 6-00 (2)

69. David Mullins -- Coppell, Tx -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-04 (1) -- 5-04 (1)

70. Mark Knuckols -- Harleton, Tx -- 5-02 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-02 (2)

71. Dale Hightower -- Mannford, Ok -- 5-02 (3) -- 0-00 (0) -- 5-02 (3)

72. Cloys Warren -- Bastrop, Tx -- 4-09 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-09 (2)

73. Kelly Owens -- Crowley, La -- 4-07 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-07 (2)

74. Robert Collett -- Zapata, Tx -- 4-03 (2) -- 0-00 (0) -- 4-03 (2)

75. James Bass -- Carthage, Tx -- 3-06 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 3-06 (1)

76. Ritter Ferguson -- Diana, Tx -- 2-11 (1) -- 0-00 (0) -- 2-11 (1)

Naohiro Maruo -- Justin, Tx -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00 (0)

Big Bass

> Day 1 –- Troy Lindner -- 8-10
> Day 2 –- Tim Reneau -- 5-15

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