ORANGE, Texas – T-Roy Broussard hunts alligators for a living.
On Saturday, he'll hunt for an even more elusive prize – a berth in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.
Broussard, who lives 30 minutes away in Port Arthur, Texas., maintained his lead Friday on Day 2 of the Bass Pro Shops Central Open here on the Sabine River. Broussard weighed a limit of 11 pounds, 1 ounce on Friday, and coupled with his big bag of 15-0 on Thursday, he now has a two-day total of 26-1. While that's less than a 1 ½ -pound advantage on his closest competitor, it's a decent margin given the low weights presented through two days of fishing.
Broussard, who was featured in History Channel's show "Swamp People," said he'll swing for the fences if he has to. He's knows a chance to fish in the 2018 Classic next March on Lake Hartwell (S.C.) is on the line.
"I'll keep doing what I've been doing," Broussard said. "I've got confidence in the places I've been going, but I've got another place I haven't been to yet where I think I can catch some big bass ... I'm going to go out there and knock them out."
For the second consecutive day, Broussard said he narrowly missed at least one sizable fish that would have pushed his weight considerably higher.
"I lost a 4-pounder and a 2-pounder in the same spot I caught the 5-pounder yesterday," he said. "There are some good fish in there. I have to go get them. I can't sit back and wait for someone to catch me. I've got to go out and win it."
Broussard already did get a win – he won the Livingston Lure Leader Award of $250 for being in first place after Day 2. Now he'll aim for a much bigger prize on Day 3.
Light bags were the norm again on Day 2 of the Central Open but there may be relief for the 12 surviving pros and the dozen co-anglers who made the cut. Many anglers reported that the water level dropped on the Sabine much of Friday, which means that areas upriver (which have been largely unfishable because the river has spilled its banks north of Orange,) could come into play on Day 3. And just about every angler has said the key to good bites, regardless of where they are fishing this week, is moving (or falling) water.,
If the weights do get heavier on Saturday, it could be a wild finish. The Top 12 pros are separated by just more than 5 pounds, so one chunky bass in the livewell could shake up the leaderboard in a hurry.
Carl Svebek III of Orange is hot on Broussard's heels with a two-day total of 24-9. He weighed a limit of 12-14 on Friday, including a pair of 4-pounders. Svebek, who only began fishing again competitively last year after being out of the sport since 2010, said he'd like nothing more than to do well again in front of a hometown crowd.
"I've fished a lot of tournaments," Svebek said. "I feel like this is my second chance. I've had a lot of hardships, but I've bounced back. If you would have told me eight years ago I'd be fishing a Bassmaster Open with a chance to win this thing and fish in the Classic, I'd say you were crazy. So I have just to go out and do my best. I'm excited about my chances."
Randy Sullivan of Breckenridge, Texas, leaped into third place on Friday by virtue of a limit that weighed 13-3, which gave him a two-day total of 24-2. Sullivan said the Sabine fished much better for him on Day 2, given the falling water throughout the system.
"It's definitely fishing better and better out there right now where I am," Sullivan said. "The water is dropping, and it's giving me more of an opportunity. I left my spots alone after a while, and went looking for a big one in community water."
Sullivan said one of his primary areas holds both clean and dirty water, which shows how fickle the Sabine has been this week.
"In one spot I'm doing one thing and literally two feet away, I'm doing something else," he said. "It's two completely different presentations. It's wild."
Other pros in the Top 12 are: Fourth, Jeff Avery, 23-2; fifth, Shane Cormier, 22-4; sixth, Josh Bertrand, 22-0; seventh, Jonathan Simon, 21-13; eighth, Chad Morgenthaler, 21-10; ninth, Trey Smith, 21-10; 10th, Matthew Delaney, 21-9; 11th, Terry Luedtke, 20-15; and 12th, John Garrett, 20-13.
Mark Powers of Platteville, Colo., leads the co-angler field with a two-day total of 14-4. Co-anglers have a three-bass limit each day.
Other co-anglers who will fish Saturday are: Second, Michael Soliz, 13-10; third, Vernon Cooksey, 12-12; fourth, Dane Thibodeaux, 12-11; fifth, Steven Shafer, 12-8; sixth, Alan Woodford, 11-12; seventh, Daniel Corkern, 11-10; eighth, Charles Harp, 11-10; ninth, Ben Blankenbeker, 11-10; 10th, Jordan Burks, 11-6; 11th, Gerald Hansen, 11-4; and 12th, Keith Glasby, 10-15.
The final day of the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on the Sabine River will begin with a 6 a.m. launch at the Orange Boat Ramp. A drive-through weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Orange River Festival also is taking place at the park adjacent to the boat ramp on Saturday with food, drinks, Midway rides, games, informational and sponsor booths, and live music.