Guys, trust me when I tell you the Sabine River was a really cool place for a professional bass tournament.
I know some people are probably going to think I’m just saying that because I finished 10th in last week’s Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by STARK Cultural Venues. They’ll think I’m just bragging on the place because I got the season off to a good start with a nice check and some good points in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
But I was honestly looking forward to this tournament long before I knew how any of that stuff would turn out, because I knew it would be a challenging event. My roommates Josh Bertrand and Cliff Pirch can vouch for me on that.
I read several comments the week before the tournament about how tough it was going to be. A lot of people were even asking, “Why are we there?”
But one of my favorite things about fishing with B.A.S.S. is the unique venues they take us to, and this place was definitely unique.
It reminded me a little bit of the Delaware River with the size of the fish and how much each keeper mattered.
I only caught 17 fish last week. I only had a limit one day, and I finished in 10th place in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.
Think about that, and try to imagine the adrenaline rush I got every time I set the hook on a keeper. And when I caught a 5-pound, 4-ounce fish on the third day on my last cast, I pretty much freaked out.
The place fished small, but there were five main areas you could run to. When you only have 2 1/2 days of practice, you can’t even practice all of those areas. You really have to make a decision on what you’re going to do before you get there.
I spent a day in each area before the off-limits period began. Then I decided where I was going to fish based on what I liked the best.
I ended up fishing three different areas in four days. I spent the first two days fishing around the ramp in the Sabine River, but I definitely felt those fish got burned up by heavy fishing pressure. That’s when I started moving around.
On Day 3, I ran 70 miles from the Sabine to the Lacassine Refuge. That was the day it rained so hard on the people who fished the Sabine. But since I was so far East in Louisiana, I never even knew it rained.
On Day 4, I ran 30 miles from the Sabine to the Neches River. That’s the first time I’ve ever fished three totally different areas in one tournament.
It was really cool to catch fish that far apart and weigh them in at the same place.
I had heard all of the stories from 2013 about the Sabine taking out lower units and Michael Iaconelli crashing, but I really wasn’t worried about any of that. I have complete confidence in my Phoenix Boats/Yamaha SHO combo, and I knew I could make whatever runs I wanted to and still make it back.
It was actually really cool a couple of different times when I wasn’t around any other boats.
There I was, a dude who grew up in Northern California, out in the middle of nowhere in the straight-up swamps. I was catching bass under cypress trees that were covered with Spanish moss, and I couldn’t hear a sound from another human being.
That was awesome.
Nobody’s looking forward to next month’s tournament on Lake Guntersville – my new home lake – more than I am. But if every lake looked like Guntersville, things would run together and the professional trail would get pretty dull after a while.
We need to visit venues like the Sabine River where our skills and decision making are put to the test. That makes us all better as fishermen and helps us put on a good show for the fans – who, by the way, were awesome in Orange, Texas.
I’d love it if the Sabine shows up on a future Elite Series schedule.
Not because I’d be banking on another Top 10 finish.
But because I like the kind of challenge and experience a place like that can provide.