ORANGE, Texas — A last-minute decision to run two hours to the Houston area rewarded Brock Mosley with a five-fish limit of 15 pounds, 10 ounces, which leads Day 1 of the 2021 Dovetail Games Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River sponsored by Bassmaster Fishing 2022 – the official video game of B.A.S.S.
Familiar with the potential of the tournament’s western boundary, Mosley, who hails from Collinsville, Miss., ran the Intracoastal Waterway, crossed Galveston Bay and settled into a narrow waterway on Houston’s east side. While he was pleased with his decision, he admitted he made the commitment shortly before takeoff.
“I was one of the last boats to check out (Boat 97), so I knew all the spots around Orange would be covered up,” Mosley said. “I spent three days of practice trying to talk myself out of making that run, but this morning, I decided to go.
“Also, I knew the wind wasn’t going to blow today, but it’s supposed to blow tomorrow and I know I can’t go back tomorrow. It’s going to be 20- to 30-mph winds and there’s no way.”
Refueling near his starting spot allowed Mosley to fish uninterrupted until making the 100-plus-mile ride back to weigh-in. Targeting a mix of docks, seawalls, cypress trees, shade and current breaks, Mosley said he saw evidence of recent spawning.
“I saw a lot of fry (recently hatched bass); I don’t know if those fish were guarding fry or what they were doing, but they were biting,” he said. “I don’t know if they even get fished very often.”
Mosley caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with a white Yamamoto Zako trailer.
“There are other ways to catch them, but that’s the way I like to catch them because I can fish so fast,” Mosley said. “I know guys like to slow down and flip, but in tough tournaments, I like to cover as much water as I can.”
Mosley said his day exceeded his expectations, both in terms of quality and quantity.
“I had no idea I was going to catch that kind of weight today,” he said. “I went over there hoping to catch 9 or 10 pounds and I got a 5 1/2-pound kicker. It took me 20 minutes to catch a limit when I got there.
“It’s a long ride and it’s hard on you; it’s a lot of wear and tear. It just paid off today.”
Fishing pressure in the Sabine River and its local tributaries was Mosley’s main motivator to even consider the Houston trip. Having competed in a previous Elite event on the Sabine in 2018, he recognized that he’d be facing a more limited scenario this year.
“After being here in ’18, there’s not as many places to get multiple bites,” he said. “Where there are, there’s a lot of boats. That was the key.
“I tried to catch all I could catch today, and then if I can catch 7 or 8 pounds tomorrow around Orange, I’ll still be in the game.”
Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., is in second place with 15-1. Focusing on a shallow backwater area, Christie said he fished a variety of shallow cover and used a wide selection of reaction and flipping baits.
Noting that he had a busy day with several keepers, Christie said he was pleasantly surprised with the caliber of fish he caught.
“I was fortunate enough the last day of practice to find two areas that had some fish in them,” Christie said. “I really didn’t think they were that big. What I thought were keepers turned into good ones.
“I had two areas; I used one of those today, went to another area, caught one and started heading back. It was really fast and furious.”
Caleb Kuphall of Mukwonago, Wis., is in third place with 13 pounds.
While he expected to be picking through high numbers of bass in hopes of finding a quality bite, Kuphall said he was thankful to find two “luck bites.”
“Out here, anything over 3 pounds, I’d consider it a luck bite,” Kuphall said. “My practice didn’t go that well; on my best day, I probably had 8 pounds. Today, I got lucky and caught two giants (approximately 4-2 and 3-11).”
Kuphall said he caught four of his keepers on an unspecified jigging presentation. He also caught one on a topwater bait.
“My two kickers were in two completely different areas,” Kuphall said. “Where I caught the first one, I had high hopes for that one. I culled out everything I caught early this morning in that area. I didn’t hit it too hard today, so I think there’s more there.”
Marc Frazier of Newnan, Ga., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 6-6 largemouth.
Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., leads the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 336 points, followed by Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., with 331 and Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., with 311.
Justin Hamner of Northport, Ala., leads the Rookie of the Year standings with 274 points.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. CT at the City of Orange Boat Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at the ramp at 3 p.m., with the Top 49 anglers advancing to Saturday’s semifinal round.