World-class fishing and bountiful bass at Lake Sam Rayburn
Lake Sam Rayburn, conveniently located just a few miles from our East Texas bed and breakfast, is a mecca for bass fishing and a bucket-list destination for both new and experienced anglers. The reservoir is as legendary for its size (over 114,000 acres and 600 miles of shoreline) as it is for the fish who call it home, especially the trophy-scale bass. It’s worth noting that the record largemouth bass is over 16 pounds. Any day of fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn is sure to be memorable, but the excitement runs high during the many fishing tournaments throughout the year. The “Big Bass Splash” is the largest of the competitions; it’s held in the spring, and other smaller events take place through the spring and fall. Summer is still great fishing overall, but largemouth bass are less active during the hotter months. Although there is a competitive prize structure, the overall spirit is one of friendly camaraderie and family fun, celebrating a shared passion for angling while enjoying a beautiful and action-packed day on Lake Sam Rayburn.
The ”Big Bass Splash” – a fishing competition unlike any other
The Big Bass Splash is the granddaddy of East Texas fishing tournaments and the country’s largest hourly big bass competition, with top-dollar prizes to match. For 2024, they’ve announced an impressive $1.3 million in awards planned for the tournament. The event’s 40th anniversary will also be in 2024, and is sure to bring even more buzz to the 3-day fishing extravaganza, set to take place on April 19, 20, and 21, 2024. Founder Bob Sealy created the Splash as a way for “amateurs to win like the pros,” after seeing that the entry costs for most top-level fishing competitions made them inaccessible to amateurs and families who wanted to participate. You’ll likely see Sealy in person, leading the festivities every day at the nearby Umphrey Family Pavilion, the epicenter of the non-stop action every day during the competition from 6 am – 2 pm.
You’ll get a restful night’s sleep in your Bird & Butterfly room or cabin, and you’ll need it because you’ll probably be out the door and headed for the Umphrey Pavilion even before the sun’s up. Luckily for you, it’s just 5 miles away on Sam Rayburn Parkway. But bring your wife and let her sleep in so she can enjoy a lovely breakfast in our dining room. Not to worry, we’ll get up with the chickens to be sure you’ve got hot coffee for your thermos and a house-made blueberry muffin for the road.
Once you’re settled on the lake, toss your line and join the Big Bass Splash party as young and old anglers vie for the day’s largest catch. One of the most unique parts of the Big Bass Splash is that you can win several ways – there’s the top prize for the largest fish of the weekend (valued at $300K including a new boat, RAM truck, and $150K in cash), but prizes are also awarded every hour for the top 15 heaviest fish for that hour. So, even if you don’t get “the big one” (the top weight in 2023 was 9.67 lbs), you’ll still have a chance to win if yours is one of the 15 heaviest the hour you caught it!
Another endearing quality of the Big Bass Splash is its emphasis on family and charity, which has been part of the mission since its founding four decades ago. The “Little Anglers Division” rewards kids in their own category for their catches throughout the weekend, making it exciting for all ages. The event also regularly donates to charities like Ronald McDonald House and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, showing their dedication to goodwill causes.
Other fishing events at Lake Sam Rayburn and useful info for your visit
The Big Bass Splash is certainly the preeminent annual fishing event at Lake Sam Rayburn, but plenty of other competitions are coming up soon. Media Bass Team tournaments occur in 2024 on Feb 3, March 2, March 16, and April 27. With an entry fee of $200, these events have a team focus, awarding prizes based on the total weight of 5 bass your team has reeled in. Even if you don’t personally catch the biggest fish of the day, your team still has a chance to win prizes depending on how you do as a group (1st team place is $2,600, 2nd is $1,250, and 3rd is $950). In the fall, on October 12-13, Big Bass Splash holds their smaller competition, called the “Fall Shootout.” It has the same layout as the larger spring version, including prizes for the top 5 fish overall and the top 10 heaviest fish weighed every hour, but with smaller payouts.
It’s helpful to know beforehand that these competitions all allow artificial lures only, so keep that in mind when planning your tackle. You must also have a valid Texas fishing license and boat registration, so be sure to have those details squared away before your trip (you can get a fishing license at any Wal-Mart). On your way back to The Bird & Butterfly Inn, refuel your team after a long day on the water by stopping at Rue’s BBQ (just 5 miles away and one of our favorite local barbeque spots) and stock up on delicious brisket, sausages, and classic sides. If cooking out is more your speed, stop by Kaines Meat Market and pick up something to toss on the grill in our new Bird & Butterfly Inn outdoor kitchen.
After a long day on the lake, relax with us on the viewing deck or sitting around the fire pit in the outdoor kitchen. We can think of no better place to share tales of the day, and maybe even hear about “the one that got away.”
Stay with us! Cast your line at Lake Sam Rayburn and experience the thrill of the Big Bass Splash and other fishing tournaments right in our backyard!