The Sabine River provides one of the biggest playing fields the Bassmaster Elite Series has ever visited. Elite anglers will launch from the City of Orange Boat Ramp in Orange, Texas, all four days of competition. From there, anglers will have miles upon miles of water to navigate and decide where to fish. The furthest North boundary (Boundary 1) is just south of the dam at Toledo Bend Reservoir, roughly 90 miles away from takeoff, and the furthest South boundary (Boundary 11) is roughly 115 miles away from takeoff and 205 miles away from the northern boundary.
Below is a map shared with Elite Series anglers to show the boundaries of fishable water.
In past events on the Sabine River, we have seen anglers make extremely long runs in both directions from takeoff. In some cases, anglers will spend upwards of two hours one way, just to get to their starting location. With so much fishable water, finding the right areas over four days of practice is a challenging task.
One of the most successful anglers in the last two trips to the Sabine River is retired Elite Series angler Scott Rook. In his last two trips to the Sabine River, Rook registered an eighth-place finish in 2015 and a 16th-place finish in 2018. The Central Arkansan is historically known to be one the best river fishermen in Elite Series history, and he understands how to dissect such a vast fishery.
“This place is huge,” said Rook. “The first time we went down there I didn’t really research it much because I figured I could go down there and dissect it like any other river, but I underestimated just how big it was.
“It’s not really a river, it’s more like the Louisiana Delta with the amount of water you can fish.”
Trying to manage hundreds of thousands of acres of fishable water in such a small period of time can be extremely difficult. Rook emphasized how important it is to not spread yourself out on a body of water like the Sabine.
“The worst thing you can do in practice is try to run around all over the place,” he said. “You have to pick a few areas and go settle in for the day.”
Rook noted that it’s hard to attack the Sabine River like most river systems and treating it as such can be detrimental. In his first trip to the Sabine River in 2013, he made that mistake and missed the cut in 63rd place.
“That place is not a traditional river,” he said. “I can go to most rivers, and I can pattern fish. I can run up and down the river and catch them on a pattern, but the Sabine River is an ‘area’ place.
“You have got to find an area that has the right water quality and a solid concentration of fish, and that’s where you can win.”
With so much fishable water, fishing around a crowd wouldn’t seem like an issue, but in past years we’ve seen multiple boats stack up in small key areas.
“You can’t share water with too many other competitors if you want to win. We’ve seen it time after time, you’ll run out of fish if there’s too many boats in your area.
“Water quality is huge on the Sabine.” Rook said. “It’s just like Florida in the sense that they’re not everywhere. You have to find that right water quality with the right vegetation.”
Since retiring, Rook has been managing Southern Reel Outfitters, a large tackle store in Central Arkansas. Anytime Bassmaster LIVE is rolling, you can bet Rook will be watching.
“We’ve got a big TV at the store and we always have Bassmaster LIVE playing during the events,” he said. “I still follow all the guys on social media. Seeing all the pictures from practice makes me want to be there.”
To read more about Rook’s retirement click here.