Hanselman has big-time potential

Elite Series rookie Ray Hanselman has some big-time potential on Lake Travis today. His second-place bag of 16 pounds, 13 ounces includes only three fish: a 5-13, a 3-7 and a 7-9, caught at 8:23.

After landing the 7-9, Hanselman told his judge, "Dude, I'm not getting a lot of bites, but when I get one, it's a good one."

Hanselman has some big-time potential on the Elite Series as well. The 45-year-old, Del Rio, Texas, resident has a track record that includes three victories in Costa Series events in Texas in 2015 - on Lake Texoma, Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Lake Amistad. Then he won the Costa Series Championship on the Ohio River that year.

If this early big fish bite dies, and Hanselman thinks that may be happening now, he's got a backup plan where he believes he can fill his 5-bass limit with some better than average keepers.

A whale of a first hour

Yes, everyone knows there are big bass in Lake Travis, where the lake record largemouth is 14.2 pounds. Fred Roumbanis mentioned seeing 7-, 8- and 9-pounders during practice, but admitted he wasn't sure how he was going to be able to catch them. All the talk was about the incredible numbers of bass just under and just over the 14-inch keeper length.

So what's happened in the first hour of Texas Fest has been astounding. It's been a whale of a first hour. The headliner was Cliff Pace's 10-pound, 5-ounce bass. But there were others, including Josh Bertrand's 8-3, Brent Ehler's 7-10 and five bass over 5 pounds: Ray Hanselman Jr., 5-13; Micah Frazier and Drew Benton with 5-10s; Chris Lane, 5-8; and Steve Kennedy, 5-6.

A 4-pounder is a difference-maker at Lake Travis, and two have those were recorded in the first hour: David Walker with a 4-13 and Dustin Connell with a 4-10.

Lake Travis and the Bassmaster Elite Series pros are showing out this morning. As Brett Hite noted yesterday, "These guys always surprise you."

Florida bass showing up early

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been stocking Florida strain largemouth bass in Lake Travis since 1988. But all the pre-tournament talk here this week, and in previous tournaments here, has been about the numbers of 1- to 2-pound fish.

In the first hour today, big news is drowning out the dinks. In addition to Cliff Pace's 10-pound, 5-ounce bass, Josh Bertrand has landed an 8-3, Brent Ehler caught a 7-10, and both Micah Frazier and Drew Benton have boated 5-10s.

Remember, at Texas Fest the anglers aren't estimating weights. The fish are put on calibrated scales for judges to weigh. What you see in the BASSTrakk Twitter feed is the real deal. This ain't "fake news."

Pace lands 10-pounder - seriously

Cliff Pace has the nickname "Game Face" for a reason. He seldom changes expressions. But even "Game Face" had to laugh when he caught a largemouth bass that weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces this morning.

Immediately, phone calls were made to Pace's judge to see if he'd made a mistake and meant to enter 1 pound, 5 ounces.

Nope. Pace really does have a 10-pounder in his livewell in the first hour at Lake Travis.

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You can catch 'em on anything

It's going to be quite interesting to see the "Lures of the Top 12" story after this tournament is over. It seems you can catch bass on anything you want to try at Lake Travis right now.

"I had 20 rods on the deck during practice, and I caught fish on every one of them," said Fred Roumbanis yesterday. "I mean everything. I think you're going to see guys catch a hundred bass a day. I don't know if we've ever seen that in an Elite Series tournament."

Brett Hite echoed those thoughts, saying, "You can catch them from 40 feet to the surface right now and anywhere in between. You can catch them on a moving bait, a twitch bait, drop baits, stick baits - it really doesn't matter."

What aren't in abundance are bass measuring the 14-inch minimum.

"You can catch a hundred without ever catching a keeper," said Wesley Strader. "Yes, you can. That's what's crazy. You can catch a hundred 13-inchers."