Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson of Pollok with a 74 pound flathead caught on Toledo Bend in late March.

PRADCO Outdoor Brands and Simms Fishing Products have joined the budding list of companies around the country that have shifted production schedules and operations to produce supplies in support of doctors, nurses and other health care workers battling from the front lines in the war against the coronavirus outbreak.

PRADCO is an outdoor industry icon specializing in fishing and hunting gear. The company umbrella covers brands dedicated to producing everything from hunting stands and deer feeders to crankbaits and crappie jigs.

The company recently announced it has begun making face shields, frames and hand sanitizer for distribution throughout the medical community. Tooling and molds for the products were fabricated in PRADCO Fishing’s tool room in Fort Smith, Ark.

The face shields are being formed out of plastic sheets stamped with the BOOYAH insignia. The frames and shields were designed in a collaborative effort with personnel at Baptist Health in Fort Smith. Hand sanitizer made from 75 percent isopropyl alcohol is being bottled on the YUM bait attractant line.

The items are being distributed to personnel at Baptist Health in Fort Smith and medical facilities in Birmingham, Ala.

Simms is a leading manufacturer of waders, outerwear, footwear, and technical fishing apparel. The Bozeman, Mont., company has begun production of medical gowns using a technical 3-layer material that is waterproof and breathable.

The gowns are being distributed to the Bozeman Health Medical Group and other medical providers in need.  

Martens undergoes brain surgery

Veteran bass pro Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., underwent brain surgery on April 6 to remove one of two lesions doctors discovered on his brain after he suffered several seizures while fishing on April 4, according to a BASS press release.

The release indicated that additional tests would be performed to determine the next treatment actions

Martens’ wife, Lesley, made a Facebook post on April 6 indicating the initial surgery was a success. “The surgery was successfully completed and Aaron should wake up soon - God is good.”

Big ones rolling in at ET area lakes

Fishing traffic has been brisk on area lakes this spring with many fishermen heading to the water to practice their social distancing. A few anglers have found the big ones on the prowl.

The bite has been particularly good at Houston County Lake, a 1,330-acre reservoir near Crockett. Between March 9 and April 2, bass anglers caught and released 8 bass over 10 pounds, according to Catherine Markham at Crockett Family Resort. Additionally, Markham said she weighed three fish between 8-9 pounds and numerous 7 pounders.

“It’s been really nice to see,” Markham said. “We’re sort of off the beaten path over here. We haven’t been getting all the traffic a lot of lakes are getting, but the local fishermen have been catching some big ones.”

Toledo Bend anglers have been reeling in some whoppers, as well. The Toledo Bend Lake Association’s Lunker Bass Program has recorded 25 entries over 10 pounds in 2020, including 19 entries between March 1-28.

The heaviest bass reported to the popular catch and release program this year is an 11.85 pounder caught on March 15 by Billy Maricle of Pitkin, LA.

The fat cats have been on the move, as well. Trotliners Matt and Hunner Thompson of Pollock were fishing out of Bill’s Landing on April 2 when they boated a trio of whopper flatheads weighing 74, 64 and 47 pounds. Camp owner Charlie Shivley said all of the fish were caught on live bait around timber flats 14-15 feet deep.

Lake Livingston fishing guide Dave Cox hasn’t seen any giants, but says rod and reel crowds are enjoying some outstanding action on blues in the 10-15 pound range using fresh cut shad along Trinity River ledges in 18-20 feet of water.

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