The morning started off like a tournament angler’s worst nightmare for Bonus Buck anglers Lenny Francoeur and Taylor Gleghorn. The pair realized they broke their trolling motor prop upon arriving to their starting area 25 miles away from Cypress Bend State Park on a surprisingly chilly Louisiana morning.
“We had been fishing deep, so with a broken trolling motor, we wondered if we would even be able to fish,” Francoeur said.
After a quick phone call to B.A.S.S. tournament director Chuck Harbin, their prayers were answered in the form of Toledo Bend fishing guide Darold Gleason. Gleason graciously offered to drive his own spare trolling motor prop to Francoeur and Gleghorn.
The duo went on to make the effort worthwhile, smashing a 23.5-pound limit of Toledo Bend bass and winning the $5,000 grand prize for the no entry-fee 4th Annual Toyota Bonus Bucks Owners tournament.
“Darold was an absolute savior; we really can’t thank him enough,” Francoeur said.
After receiving the spare prop, the two dug deep – both in depth, and in perseverance – to catch their winning fish. They relied on Strike King 6XDs in Tennessee Shad to dredge up enough fish to out-weigh the other anglers.
A short, 20 minute feeding window provided a flurry of four giant bass for the two fishermen. Their fifth fish was a small, 15-inch keeper the pair estimated at just a pound and a half.
“We knew if we could replace that fish with even a three-pounder, we’d have a shot,” Francoeur went on to explain. “When we were unable to do so, we really didn’t think we had a chance.”
After all the bass crossed the stage, it turned out that Francoeur and Gleghorn didn’t need to cull their smallest fish. The blue bird skies and post frontal conditions proved tough for many anglers in the field, even on one of the best bass fishing destinations in the country.
“It was an emotional day in all honesty; with the ups and downs of the mechanical issues, and after not being able to get rid of our little fish, it feels great to win,” said Gleghorn, who made the drive over to beautiful Toledo Bend from Houston, Texas in his 2014 Toyota Tacoma.
Gleghorn added a few miles to his odometer this weekend, which already reads more than 50,000 miles after only a little over a year. Obviously, Gleghorn spends a lot of time spinning his truck tires but boasts it still “runs like a dream.”
Francoeur drove 8 hours from Rogers, Arkansas in his third Toyota truck, a 2014 Tundra, to make it to Toledo Bend. On top of being passionate bass anglers, Francoeur and Gleghorn are leading organizers of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, another giant tournament in the fishing world.
These two weren’t the only anglers who traveled somewhat lengthy distances to fish this tournament and partake in the festivities. Countless hours and thousands of miles were logged behind the wheel this past week by Bonus Buck anglers so they could celebrate the fellowship of the Toyota family.
Although Francoeur and Gleghorn won the grand prize, there wasn’t just one winner this weekend. On top of more Toyota and Carhartt goodies than the competitors could carry and a couple ‘on the house’ meals, the Toyota Bonus Bucks tournament had cash payouts to the top 31 teams ranging from $5,000 to $150.
There were also three $500 random prize drawings for anglers who finished outside of the top 31, along with a highly generous $1,000 gift card from Bass Pro Shops to the team landing in 15th place , which was Joseph Roy Johnson and John Arnold. The LEER Lucky Dog Prize went to the 31st place team of Israel Mills and Joe Hicks, and Carhartt Big Bass winner Shannon Ordner shared a $1,000 clothing package with teammate Terry Gilcrease for their giant 9-pound, 6-ounce bass.
The great fishery, fantastic company, finger lickin’ food and handsome prizes are a just a few small examples of why it pays to drive a Toyota.