By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Dakota Ebare had a stellar 2022 campaign fishing on both the MLF Bass Pro Tour and the Pro Circuit. He's carried the momentum right into 2023 as evidenced by his victory at the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
The win was the most significant triumph of the 30-year-old's career following numerous near-misses last year. Topping the 193-angler field in an event shortened from 3 days to 2 due to powerful winds was worth $80,500, including the $35,000 contingency from Phoenix Boats.
He's lived in Brookeland, Texas – hard by Rayburn's shore – for the past 6 years and has put in a lot of hours on the water. That paid off when he caught a monstrous 32-04 bag on the second day of competition to outdistance runner-up Wyatt Frankens by 1-05.
"It was the result of a lot of hard work and time and dedication," he said. "For it to come together and all work out really felt great.
"Getting that first win has refreshed me and it motivates me to continue to work hard."
Ebare, a product of the collegiate program at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, has been on a phenomenal roll since early June of last year. He finished no lower than 6th in any of the final six events on the BPT and Pro Circuit, including 2nd-place finishes at the James River and St. Lawrence River (the latter in the Pro Circuit TITLE Championship).
He understands that it likely won't be too long before he turns in a lackluster finish and that it could happen this week in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener at Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes.
"The fish here (at the Harris Chain) don't care about past results," he said. "I'm going to work my butt off in practice and hope to make another Top-10, but I've got to be realistic about it. This (run) has been great and it's been a lot of fun, but I'm taking everything day by day and trying to get a little better each day and keeping everything in perspective."
He focused on prespawn fish last week that were at depths ranging from 8 to 18 feet. His bait arsenal consisted of a Strike King 6XD crankbait, an umbrella rig (1/4-ounce heads with Strike King Rage Swimmers on the hooks), a Strike King Elite 300 jerkbait and a football jig. The crankbait and the U-rig were the top producers.
"I tried to be where the big females were already setting up," he said. "My main deal was just looking for shad – (the bass) were really feeding up at times, but you could be in the right place at the wrong time and never know what was there.
"I fished some new areas that I'd never fished before. With all the time I've spent out there over the last couple years, I knew what I needed to be looking for."
He said his first two days of practice for this week's derby at the Harris Chain was decent, but he didn't find enough to give him a great deal of confidence.
"I've caught lots of numbers, but I haven't really dialed in the quality, which is typical in Florida," he said. "It still baffles me every year when the weights end up being so high – there's so many little ones and then everybody comes in with at least 15 pounds. It always makes me ask where in the world they all came from."
> Ebare, who's still single, hopes to eventually start a family but is focused on fishing for the moment. "I moved here because I really wanted to pursue a career fishing tournaments," he said. "I'd had a couple of good years at the college level and I wanted to see where I could take it before I got too wrapped up in life. This allows me to stay gone as much as I have."