Combs Would Go Offshore for Conroe Giants

Published on 02-13-2020

By Pete Robbins

When it comes to Texas bass fishing, it pays to listen to Keith Combs, who has likely won more six-figure checks in the Lone Star State than any other angler in history. He’s a big bass specialist who has seen dozens of double digit fish come into his boat, which makes him perfectly qualified to opine about the upcoming Big Bass Tour event on Lake Conroe.

When the anglers launch their boats on February 28, 29 or March 1, anyone looking to take the top prize likely should not make the trip back to the dock without a ten-plus in the livewell. Four of the past five years the BBT has visited Conroe in early March, and the smallest bass to claim the top prize was a 10.53 in 2017.

Each of the past three years there have been at least two 10-pounders brought to the scales, and in 2018 there were are remarkable three fish over 11 and another 3 over 10. That year five “unlucky” anglers brought 9-pounders to weigh-in and didn’t make the top 10 overall. That means competitors will also need to pay close attention to the live leaderboard to ensure that a prize catch doesn’t get used up during an hour when it can’t win.

Combs said that the lake is in good shape and the winter overall has been fairly mild.

“We haven’t had a lot of severe cold fronts, but we’ve had enough cold fronts and rain to keep things normal,” he said. That means that fish could be in a variety of stages, from late winter patterns, through prespawn phases, all the way up to the verge of spawning. Plenty of quality bass will be caught along seawalls, from under docks or on riprap, but he’d focus his efforts offshore. That decision is strengthened by the fact that the lake has been a bit below full pool for the past few months.

“I wouldn’t look extremely deep,” he said. “Probably in the 10 to 12 foot range. I’d focus on main lake structure like main lake points, but I’d probably also fish some secondary points.” The best structural elements would be “anything with decent contours or with rock on it. If it has those two things together, it has potential.”

He noted that fish yet to enter the true spawning phases will be keyed in on traveling schools of bait, so that’s another factor determining whether he’d camp or keep on moving. With the bait there should be groups of fish. “They won’t be huge schools,” he explained. “They’d be smaller groups but with better quality.”

He’d also focus in the mid-lake region, which tends to produce a lot of the larger fish and remains stable through changing weather. “The river end is so susceptible to muddy rain,” he explained. “It can get blown out a lot.”

Combs is a dedicated and avid cranker, so two diving plugs would get the call for a lot of his effort. The first, and foremost, would be a Strike King 5XD deep diver in citrus shad, a color that works exceptionally well on Conroe, especially early in the season. For times when he’d venture up shallower, he’d use a KVD 2.5 square bill in the same color scheme.

If a crankbait is not your confidence bait, or if you just want to mix it up and provide a slower presentation, his second choice would be a Carolina rigged Strike King Perfect Plastic Game Hawg. While many Texan anglers dote on colors like Red Bug and green pumpkin, Combs noted that in Conroe’s historically darker water junebug or straight black are often more effective. If the bass were present but hesitant to react to an active, bulky plastic, he’d revert to a straight-tailed worm like the 8-inch Bullworm in those same colors.