2013 Elite Series Sabine River Challenge Presented by STARK Cultural Venues
Sabine River System - Orange, TX, Mar 14 - 17, 2013

Tough fishing on the Sabine

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

We’ve hit some tough fishing here on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas.

When 13 of the nation’s best bass anglers get skunked and 27 only catch one bass, you know it must be tough.

This is a mammoth body of water to cover; you can run the intercostal to the Atchafalaya Basin or you can run to New Orleans if you want. It’s similar to other places we’ve fished, like New Orleans, with a lot of backwaters and marsh areas.

The difference is the hurricanes decimated the fish populations in a lot of the areas we can fish.

The bass are coming back, but most are just a hair under the 14-inch size limit. The growth rates are fast but the adult population hasn’t been restored throughout the system.

However, the biggest problem is a lot of the creeks and rivers feeding this system are really muddy, thanks to the high tide and wind we are experiencing. Also, this is a time when farmers are pumping water from their rice fields into the feeder creeks, and that’s turning prime areas into chocolate milk; you can’t see a spinnerbait a quarter inch beneath the surface.

As luck would have it, the draining of the rice fields started when we got her for practice and it’s continued into the tournament.

That abrupt change really shocked the bass.

We’ve all been on Google Earth trying to find a protected area away from these muddy rivers that might have clearer water, grass and concentrations of fish, and I’m sure that’s what the leaders have found.

I only caught three keepers today and was really happy to catch them.

The small area I planned to fish had potential, but when I got there Thursday, the wind and tide had pushed in the mud and ruined it.

So the bass I caught Thursday were absolute gifts. I found one little spot with clear water – just big enough for one cast – and I caught two of my keepers there and was lucky to catch one other good one.

That’s the deal here; if you can find an area that has some clearer water and a few of those better fish, it’s golden.

During practice, I ran a long way and burned $150 of gas a day and never really found anything that was extra special. I just had to roll the dice and hope the area I liked best would be good and it wasn’t.

I felt badly for Dennis Tietje, who is rooming with Davy Hite, Scott Rook and me. He had severe mechanical problems first thing on Day One and couldn’t go where he wanted to go. This is home water so he had a great chance to do well. He still might, given the low weights the first day.

This I know; there’s a lot more fish than what we are seeing. Our timing is just off, especially with the rice ponds being pumped out right now.

Today will be another day of practice for me, but I will do the best I can and see what I can come up with. There’s still hope for making the finals with a few good bites. Sixteen pounds may be leading, but 50th place is not even 4 1/2 pounds.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude! 

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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