Fishing & Boating News

Bassmaster Elite Series Kicks Off Season At Sabine River

by: Helen Northcutt,

The Bassmaster Elite presented by STARK Cultural Venues in Orange, Texas, March 19-22 should see large crowds of fans, similar to the competition held there in 2013. That year, 33,650 people attended the event over four days.
Photo by James Overstreet/Bassmaster
(Mar 12, 2015 - Orange, TX) Many anglers don’t seem to know what to expect on the water during the Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by STARK Cultural Venues in Orange, Texas, March 19-22.

They’re bracing for a tough, competitive tournament when a couple of keeper bites could make the difference between a big check and a middle-of-the-pack finish.

But whatever happens, history says plenty of fans will be there to see it unfold.

When the Elite Series last visited Orange in March 2013, records were shattered with 33,650 people attending the event over four days. The mark smashed the previous attendance record of 17,920, set in 2011 in Decatur, Ala., by a whopping 15,730 fans.

“We’re expecting even more this time,” said Ida Schossow of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve added several more events to the Orange County River Festival (held in conjunction with the tournament), and we’re hoping for excellent weather. We really believe this tournament will top the last one.”

On the fishing side, expectations are a little less certain.

Todd Faircloth – who lives in Texas, but had never fished the Sabine River prior to the tournament – won the 2013 event and its $100,000 first-place prize with a four-day total of 49 pounds, 6 ounces. He finished just ahead of Arizona angler Dean Rojas (42-12) and Florida pro Terry Scroggins (41-1).

Anglers needed a three-day weight of only 10-15 (an average of 3.6 pounds per day) to make the Top 50 and earn a check. It took a three-day weight of 26-12 (8.9 pounds per day) to make the Top 12 and fish among the finalists on Day 4.

Things could be every bit as tough this time around.

“It’s a system with a lot of fish in it, but fish that meet that 14-inch minimum length limit are hard to come by,” said Todd Driscoll, district fisheries biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife. “An angler who catches a 9- or 10-pound bag could really have something.”

Driscoll said anglers should encounter a prespawn/spawn situation, meaning most of the bass will be in the shallow bays and bayous that anglers worked so hard to access in 2013.

To catch his winning weight during that event, Faircloth targeted fish in an area he described as a “bayou off a bayou” off the Taylor River. He worked one 3/4-mile stretch for four days where he believed fish were probably bedding, even though he couldn’t see the beds.

Faircloth believes recent heavy rains in the area will play a role in this year’s tournament.

“We won’t know until we get down there, but I expect some dirty water,” Faircloth said. “I also expect the river to be rolling pretty good. I think the weights could be a little higher than last time, but it’ll still be a tough tournament.”

Driscoll said the cold w