ADVBassStats: Sabine River

On Day 1 of the 2023 Folds of Honor Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River, Chad Pipkens broke through his long personal Sabine dry spell and sacked up 14lbs-7oz to take the early lead. In his previous 4 visits to the Sabine, Pipkins had never made a Saturday cut and never earned a check. That would change in 2023. For the Day 1 field, Sabine delivered 88 limits but an average weight of only 6.9lbs.
For the field, Day 2 was a near carbon copy of Day 1. Matty Wong caught the biggest bag with 13-3 and Brock Mosley moved into the lead with a two-day total of 21-6. The eyeballs emoji data point was the Saturday cut line at 13-4 over 2 days.
On Saturday, Mosley started early and started strong, collecting a great limit in the first half hour that included a 4-10 Sabine giant. Superb call by Bassmaster and FS1 to start coverage early and catch the whole thing live, including his jockeying for prime real estate with Matty Wong. He would end with the day’s best bag at 12-14, extending his lead to just over 3lbs.
On the final Day, Mosley would get another early limit, though not quite big enough for comfort. He would cull up through the day but with only 10lbs in the livewell there was no safety from a big bag by Keith Poche or Clark Wendlandt. Wendlandt made the best final day charge, putting up 12lbs, but it left him 3lbs behind Mosley and his 9-15. By being the only angler to top 9lbs on each of his fishing days, Brock Mosley got his blue trophy.
The Sabine River fishery gets a bad rap for low weights and there’s not much to argue about. 11-3 over two days earned 77th place and the last check. 13-4 over two days earned a spot in the Saturday field. 26-14 over 3 days earned a Top-10 finish and spot in the Sunday field.  Comparing the total weights to other events, Sabine delivered 2/3rds the total weight as Lay Lake on a similar number of fish. On significantly more fish it came up with about half the weight of Santee. On the plus side, those low weights made for unpredictable cut weights and compelling final day drama where a relatively “big” lead of 3lbs was in jeopardy of a single fish catch all the way to the wire.
Sabine also delivers in a lot of ways other than weight. The shallow fishing scenery is varied and stunning – from industrial shipyards to river weed lines to backwater cypress swamps. There’s the gulf wildlife, like porpoises and alligators, and the interesting saltwater by-catch of redfish, sheepshead and crabs. But it does let anglers catch bass. Sabine compares very similarly to Lay Lake in terms of both number of fish weighed in and number of limits. It is much closer to the top (Okeechobee) than the bottom (Santee) in both categories. While the Sabine River creates some unique weight math, I can appreciate it for the change of pace and the challenge it presents.