Have you ever felt a Southern night?
Free as a breeze
Not to mention the trees
Whistlin’ tunes that you know and love so”
I can assure one thing for myself is I will not being feeling the southern nights for the Fold of Honors Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River. Matter of fact, as I’m writing this as I’m on an adventure to the northern smallmouth lands, and I’m not a bit jealous of the tournament crew down that will be down in Louisiana, even though I’ll miss seeing all of them. It felt like the song was fitting for the Sabine, and to be honest it was playing in the truck whenever I decided to start writing this.
Anyhow, while the Sabine River might not be the typical big bass factories the Elites tend to visit, I believe it’s one of the most interesting tournaments of the year. Just so many things going on and interesting strategies you can see the Elites choose. Whether it be making the run across the Galveston Bay into Houston, figuring out how much fuel you have to have to run up the Sabine River or just maximizing fishing time by staying close to takeoff. Obviously as far as big fish go there’s not many of those in the Sabine, but there are certainly a bunch of different strategies that are interesting to watch play out.
All of the Elite competitors will have a strategy one way or the other in this tournament, and so will I in choosing my Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team. As you can tell by the title I’m picking guys who I know have had success closer to takeoff and eliminating guys who I think are going to gamble on the long runs. Mainly because I’m in a spot in overall points where I’m okay if I stay steady, but I also don’t want to completely bomb. But with my luck all of my picks will end up making the run to Houston, and I’ll make a fool out of myself suggesting these guys are going to stay close.
Anyways, let’s jump into some picks.
BUCKET A: WELCHER
Kyle Welcher primarily fished the Neches River in 2021, and if I was willing to bet after a Top 10 in there he’s certainly going to give it another go. Neches River is fairly close to takeoff, but also this style tournament of shallow power fishing fits right into Welcher’s wheelhouse. Watch for Welcher to be a factor in this tournament and possibly take home his first Elite Series victory.
Alternate: John Cox
BUCKET B: FEIDER
Seth Feider utilized maximum fishing time in 2021 by fishing pretty much right in front of takeoff and found himself in the Top 10 as well. Feider is another guy who excels fishing shallow, and I would look for that to play yet again this time on the Sabine. Not to mention he’s already expressed on Dave Mercer’s podcast he was actually looking forward to the Sabine minus the extremely hot weather.
Alternate: Lee Livesay
BUCKET C: LESTER
Brandon Lester is the only pick from my Fantasy Fishing Team that I’m unsure of where he fished in 2021 at the Sabine. Albeit, Lester is rarely in Bucket C so you’ve got to take advantage when you can. Not to mention Lester is going to have the opportunity to do well shallow, and you could expect he’s going to take full advantage of it. Compared to the 2022 season, his 2023 season hasn’t quite been up to his expectation, I would imagine. I am sure he’s ready to get things turned around in a big way.
Alternate: Logan Latuso
BUCKET D: KUPHALL
Caleb Kuphall finished up in 12th position last time we visited the Sabine River, and you would expect to see another good showing from the Wisconsin pro again this week. Kuphall was also was one who stuck it out closer to takeoff, so you could assume he’s going to use or revisit the same water he used back in 2021 to secure another great finish this week. Also to add, he’s most likely going to have the opportunity to flip a jig, and you know he will be excited to do that.
Alternate: Taku Ito
BUCKET E: SUMRALL
Caleb Sumrall made his second Elite Series Top 10 here in 2021, and you could assume he’s looking to have a good finish here after a rocky start to 2023. Sumrall is from Louisiana and has plenty of experience fishing bodies of water similar to the Sabine, one could expect that he will feel right at home on the river.
Alternate: KJ Queen
Mercury Drain the Lake Roster
• Caleb Sumrall
• Keith Poche
• Derek Hudnall
• Kyle Welcher
• Lee Livesay
• Marc Frazier
• Mike Iaconelli
• Tyler Rivet