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Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale set for Sam Rayburn Reservoir




BROOKELAND, Texas – The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats is set to return to Jasper, Brookeland and Sam Rayburn, next week, May 18-20, for the Toyota Series at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament is the third and final regular-season event in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division.


The tournament will feature a roster of the region’s best bass-fishing pros and Strike King co-anglers competing for a top prize of up to $100,000 in the pro division and a new Phoenix 518 Pro boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor in the co-angler division.


“I think this is going to be a great tournament. There is going to be a lot of fish caught, a lot of different ways,” said Bass Pro Tour angler Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, who won the season-opening Toyota Series event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir earlier this year. “The spawn is over, the shad should be spawning, and there’ll be some bluegill spawning. The lake is in really good shape right now.


“The water is a little up, so there should be plenty of water in the shallow bushes and the cypress trees,” Ebare said. “There is a lot of hydrilla this year, and there will be some fish set up offshore in the brush piles. A guy can really pick his poison and go with it in this tournament.”

Fellow Bass Pro Tour angler Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, believes that offshore fish will be the key.


“There will be multiple ways that guys can catch fish – that’s what is so fun about this lake, you can fish pretty much any way you’d like and do well,” Faircloth said. “That being said, I believe this event will be won offshore with a big crankbait, a football jig, a big swimbait – something like that.”


Both anglers agreed that big crankbaits – Strike King 6XDs and 10XDs – would be strong. Ebare mentioned that he’d also have a Strike King Sexy Dawg tied on for the early topwater bite, while Faircloth hinted that he’d be throwing a 1-ounce Strike King Slither Rig around the outside edges of the grass.


“Rayburn is really hard to predict – three good days with good weather and it could easily take 68 to 70 pounds,” Ebare said. “But the weather and the conditions always make a huge difference, so you never know. I think it’ll take at least 60 pounds to win the event next week.”

“I think a guy is going to have to average right around 22 (pounds) a day to be in contention at the end,” Faircloth said.


After two regular-season events in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division, pro Todd Castledine of Nacogdoches, Texas, leads the Southwestern Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 508 points, while Justin Swayze of Gurdon, Arkansas, leads the Strike King Co-angler Division AOY race with 508 points.


Anglers will take off each day at 6:30 a.m. CT from the Umphrey Family Pavilion, located at 5438 Sam Rayburn Parkway in Brookeland. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina and will begin at 2:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend and encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.


In Toyota Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event, scaling up for every 20 boats over 160 and scaling down for every boat below 160. With a 160-boat field, pros fish for a top prize of $40,000, plus an extra $35,000 if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard (valued at $33,500). With a 260-boat field, pros fish for a top award of $65,000, plus an extra $35,000 if Phoenix MLF Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard (valued at $33,500) plus $5,000 cash.


The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the Top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2024. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, and is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.


Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Next Gen Lithium, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.


For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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