Colby Miller’s recent 5th place finish at the 2023 Toyota Championship on Table Rock brought proper attention to the emergence of the young angler from Elmer, LA. Though only 24 years old, Miller is no stranger to the rigors of the highly competitive Toyota Series, as he’s been fishing these events as a boater since 2018. He offered a look back at his successful 2023 season and the key techniques that earned him a spot in the championship event.
His 5th place finish at the Championship on Table Rock was earned with an Alabama rig tossed at bass he could see suspended in the water on live sonar. He’s quick to point out a key feature of his setup included 18# K9 fluorocarbon, as he notes, “It has a thinner diameter than other fluoros on the market with the same test weight, so I felt comfortable throwing the A-rig without the risk of the bass seeing the line.”
For the rest of the ‘23 season, Miller relied heavily on a variety of Epic Baits products through the four regular season events that earned him a spot in the championship.
The first Toyota event in the Southwestern Division kicked off in January at Lake Sam Rayburn, where Miller started the year with a solid 20th-place finish. He ran a mix of deep and shallow man-made brush piles that dominate so many offshore tournaments on the massive east Texas reservoir. “Bass use these drains offering subtle depth changes to move from deep to shallow water on Rayburn. I was primarily focusing on the mouths of the drains and the little points along the sides in about 20-25’ of water.” For the deeper water, Miller used an Epic ¾ oz Football Jig in black/blue with a V&M J-Bug trailer in green pumpkin.
Miller also found quality bass in the back ends of the drains, closer to shallow water. Miller related the key was isolated brush piles in around 10’ of water. His choice at this depth was a 7/16 oz Epic Finesse Jig in the same color combo as the football jig.
“The bigger fish were scattered all along those drains, so it was important to mix it up and fish at different depths to find them,” Miller added.
In May, the Southwestern Division of the Toyota Series returned to Rayburn, leading Miller to essentially fish the same types of areas he’d located in January, though the better bites tended to come from the deeper part of the drains. Again, the ¾ oz Epic Football Jig was the primary choice in 20-25’ of water, though Magic Craw was his color choice. Placing 25th, he had another solid outing on Rayburn.
Miler’s third event in June took him to a Northern Division event at Lake Champlain, known for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. “This time, I focused on bed fishing in 8-12’ and found the smallmouth spawning next to isolated boulders. I used a ⅜ oz Epic Tear Drop Shot Weight and a Berkley Flat Worm to pitch to the spawners”.
Lastly, Miller returned to a Northern Division event on the St. Lawrence River, another northern smallmouth factory where Miller scored good catches of bass to land him another 20th-place finish. His technique centered on a Carolina rig in 30-50’ of water. “These were mostly located near the river channel, and the key was to find a basketball-sized rock. I drug a Zoom Speed Craw on a ¾ oz Epic Tungsten Barrel Weight, but I also added an Epic Tungsten Bead behind the weight. It adds a little extra noise for the bass to find that Carolina rigged plastic, and I really believe that helped me get more bites”, concluded Miller.
While only 24, Miller is already a veteran to the rigors of highly competitive events on a national stage. Look for him to have another successful season with Epic Baits in 2024.