Team Bensema/McArdle Win Second of Back-to-Back Texas Team Trail Presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Events on Sam Rayburn

Anglers win Ranger Z518 with a 150-horsepower Mercury outboard

Josh Bensema and Matthew McArdle weighed 20.45 pounds to win the second of back-to-back Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s (TXTT) events, May 8 on Lake Sam Rayburn. The anglers won a fully rigged Ranger Z518 with a 150-horsepower Mercury Pro XS outboard valued at $33,595.

Hailing from Willis and Magnolia, Texas, respectively, Bensema and McArdle spent most of their day fishing the Canyons area near the 147 Bridge. Both had fared well there in a recent tournament, but the bite they sought wasn’t happening.

“At 1 o’clock we had two small keepers in the well and made the decision to go down to the Buck Bay area,” McArdle said.

Plan B found them focusing their attention on flooded bushes in about 4-5 feet. That’s a common Rayburn scenario, but Bensema said he and his partner dialed one large bush with a few smaller bushes on its perimeter. The lane between them was money.

“I think bluegill were spawning around this bush; that’s the only way to explain 20 pounds of bass coming off one bush,” said Bensema. “This would have been the main plan about a week ago before that water came up, but once it rose, that spread the fish out. It was those bluegill beds that kept the fish on this one bush.”

Describing a 1-2 punch strategy, Bensema said McArdle skipped a 3/8-ounce shad pattern Santone Swim jig with a white Strike King Menace through the gap and kept it high in the water column. Meanwhile, Bensema worked the bottom with a 1/2-ounce Buckeye Football Mop Jig in peanut butter and jelly with a Big Bite Baits College Craw in tilapia. Covering both levels was key, but precision proved essential.

“Definitely, it was an angle deal,” said McArdle. “There was plenty of water behind this bush, but you had to make the perfect cast to bring your bait through a specific area. I think it just lined up with the bream beds and kept our baits in the strike zone longer.”

Noting that the flooded bush pattern exceeded their expectations, Bensema said he and McArdle visited their key spot three times between 1 and 2:30. Thanks to the bream bed attraction, the spot kept reloading and each subsequent visit produced at least one good fish that contributed to their overall weight.

For their efforts Bensema and McArdle earned a Nitro Z18 with a Mercury 150 Pro XS. In addition, they claimed $2,370 of Anglers Advantage cash and a $500 Garmin electronics bonus. Their total payday was $36,465.

The remaining Top 10 are Wilson/Flowers (second); Griffin/Tidwell (third) Goodwyn/Crelia (fourth); Imhoff/London (fifth); Martin/McClain (sixth); Whaley/Sebek (seventh); Castledine/Bonds (eighth); Shook/Iles (ninth); and Emmert/Emmert (tenth).

The next stop for the TXTT is the championship event set for June 5-6 at Lake Whitney. The Texas Team Trail presented by Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s consists of three regular-season events and a year-end championship. The championship is a two-day tournament open to teams who have fished all three regular-season events.

2021 TXTT scheduled events:


June 5-6 – Lake Whitney

2021-05-13T15:02:24+00:00 May 14th, 2021|Fishing, Fishing Tournaments, Texas Team Trail|