ORANGE, Texas — When the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series stopped in Orange, Texas, no one expected the record crowds. Except for the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce. The staff rallied the chamber business members around the cause. Attendance was off the charts.
Get ready for more. Today kicked off the Orange County River Festival. It's central to the brilliant idea of wrapping a festival around the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open #2.
A carnival, complete with Ferris wheel, food vendors, a kid's fish tank, and more fun activities are underway. So is live music, and lots of it.
Here's the show bill. On Friday, music begins at 6 p.m. with Curse and the Cure, followed by LN and The Crush at 7:30 p.m. The Ruxpins wrap up the evening with a show beginning at 9 p.m.
Tomorrow, Britt Godwin & Company take the stage at 6 p.m. The headliner comes on at 7 p.m. He is Colt Ford, the popular country rapper, performer and songwriter.
You don't have to wait for the music to enjoy the festival. It is open on Saturday, long before the final weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. Location is City of Orange Boat Ramp at 1000 Simmons Dr.
If anyone stands the chance of getting a huge lift on the Central Opens point standings, that angler is T-Roy Broussard. The Louisiana pro entered this tournament in 84th place after the first event held on Table Rock Lake. Broussard leads the tournament for the second day, and has the chance to move up and possibly win on his home water.
Josh Bertrand finished second at Table Rock Lake. He was in that spot after Day 1 at the Sabine River.
That also keeps Bertrand in good standing with the Central Open AOY standings with a second place position. He's in fair shape on the Bassmaster Elite side, currently in 40th place. Bertrand fishes the Opens for the extra income and chance to qualify for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
Already cashing in on that opportunity is Mike McClelland. The Elite Series pro won the season opener at Table Rock. All the Arkansan must do to redeem his Classic ticket is compete at the final Central Open in October at Grand Lake in Oklahoma.
Original check-in time for Flight #1 was 2 p.m. That got changed to one hour later after festival organizers requested the extra time to boost attendance. B.A.S.S. granted that wish. As a result, the anglers received an additional hour of fishing. That made a notable difference for fishermen needing the extra time in the afternoon to fish during low tide.
The Sabine River is one of the two tidal fisheries on the schedule for the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens. The other is the James River in Virginia.
Not all tides are created equal, even though the water goes in and comes back out in cycles. Tidal range is a big influencer. At Sabine Pass, the tidal range, or vertical difference between high and low tide, is about 1.5 feet. The tidal range is nearly 4 feet on parts of the James River, where the Northern Open will happen in early August.
On the Sabine the lay of the land is simply flatter than most tidal bass fishing zones. On a high tide the strike zone expands as water spreads further inland. More casting targets is the upside; getting to them in a boat is the downer.
That makes low tide the optimum time to be on the best fishing areas. Being in the right place at the right time comes down to pinpointing where the tide is on your best spot at a given time.
"I do a lot of research, study tide charts according to where it will be in my different areas."
That is the advice of Ryan Lavigne, winner of the 2017 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. Lavigne, of Gonzales, La., is a frequent fisherman of tidal waters.
"Falling water is best but you don't always get to be on your hot spots during a tournament day," he added.
Whenever possible, and on the Sabine River and it's backwaters that is most of the time, Lavigne simply tries to find moving water. That can be either rising water on the high tide or the backflow of current on the low tide.