ORANGE, TEXAS –
“One fish, two fish….”
The Sabine River read sort of like a Dr. Seuss book on Thursday when the opening round of the 2013 Elite Series Sabine River Challenge Presented by STARK Cultural Venues began here in east Texas. At stake is $100,000 and a launching point to Angler of the Year status.
But Max Leatherman, a B.A.S.S. official who weighs in fish (and sees as many as anyone on the tour), said this is going to be a tough road for whomever decides to win this thing.
“One fish, two fish, very few limits,” Leatherman said. “As far as the catch, it’s way down.”
But Leatherman is sitting idly.
“This tournament makes my job harder because I have to measure more; put them on the board to verify they’re 14 inches to be a limit.”
The Sabine River is virgin territory for the B.A.S.S. tour. It’s the first time the Elites have stopped here and most of the anglers are hunting for friendly water. That means that many in the field are heading at least an hour from the launch point in Orange and some are making even deeper forays into Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Delta.
Shaw Grigsby, as seasoned an angler as there is, said it’s not difficult to catch fish here, but he said the issue is boating keepers.
“I caught 15 or 20 in one day [of practice],” he said. “So you can catch them. You can pull up in a little ‘shoot up’ and catch 20 or 30. You can’t back off. It’s really hard because you know one is going to be a keeper.”
Cliff Crochet, who some have tagged as an angler to watch in this event, said he too is having to be creative to find his fish. He caught three, which he said amounted to a “good day.”
“I had a lot of bites,” he said. “I went to an area where I only had a few keeper bites in practice, but I stayed there all day. As it warmed, up it was just back and forth. The fish are moving in and out. You just really have to wait on them, be patient.”