Low Water At Sam Rayburn Will Make Final Bassmaster Open Of 2022 Interesting
JASPER, Texas —

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs said one of the greatest gifts an angler can receive is a chance to fish on Sam Rayburn Reservoir sometime between late October and early December.

It’s the sweet spot, he said, on a lake that’s known to produce them in bunches.

Combs will have that chance when the St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open at Sam Rayburn presented by Mossy Oak Fishing takes center stage Oct. 20-22. It’ll be the final bow of the 2022 season for the Opens anglers, and an additional six competitors (the top three from the Central Division and the top three overall from the Opens Series) will punch a ticket into the Elites.

But Combs, who lives in the tiny town of Huntington on Rayburn’s edge, said the field would be wise to take its time before they zip across this massive 114,000-acre east Texas reservoir in search of bucket-mouthed glory. That’s because Rayburn currently is about 6 feet below its normal pool of 164 feet, a result of drought conditions that have plagued the southern U.S. for the past couple of months.

“We haven’t had rain in weeks and the water is way down,” the 46-year-old pro said. “There’s stuff showing up in the main body of water, big hardwood stumps that are just at water level or right beneath the surface. I have to take my time getting to a bunch of places I usually run to. So, I caution everyone — just because it looks open or clear on a map, don’t trust it until you idle through yourself and take a look.

“If we’re 3 feet low, you’re good to run to a lot of areas. But 4 1/2 feet or lower, it’s a whole different level.”

Though competitors might be wise to slow down a bit on Rayburn given the conditions, Combs said they can expect to catch the usual bounty of big bass that has made the lake an international fishing destination. He said fish have been scattered in recent weeks, though, meaning a variety of techniques could be used to boat the best.

“There’s been no prevailing pattern, no one defined way to catch them,” Combs said. “I’d expect some shallow, some in the grass and some schooling in the middle of the lake.

“It’s been tough out here recently, but the temperatures are getting cooler right before the tournament and that can’t hurt,” he added.

“There’s a lot of grass, more than we’ve had in a few years, even on some of the main-lake flats that haven’t had grass in a long time.” And on a fishery like Rayburn, anglers are never too far out of first place to quit competing.

“Rayburn is always a cool place to fish because one big one can turn a tournament around,” Combs said. “It hasn’t been at its best the past couple of months, but you’ll still see some 8- and 9-pounders every day. And we should be getting some 45-degree nights soon, and that’s only gonna help.”

The tournament will begin Oct. 20 with a 7:15 a.m. CT takeoff from Umphrey Family Pavilion in Brookeland, Texas. Weigh-ins are scheduled for 3:15 p.m. The full field will fish on Oct. 20-21 with the Top 10 anglers scheduled to compete for the tournament title on Oct. 22. The winner will qualify for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic scheduled for March 24-26 on the Tennessee River in Knoxville.

Full coverage of the St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open presented by Mossy Oak Fishing can be found on Bassmaster.com and live coverage of Championship Saturday will be available on FS1 beginning at 7 a.m. CT.

The Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event.