PORT ARTHUR —
Last week we announced the Bassmaster Elite Series will be holding their first post-Classic tournament in Orange on the Sabine River March 14-17, 2013.
That means anglers like Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli, Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn, Shaw Grigsby and Gerald Swindle will compete for $100,000 and instant qualification into the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Other than hosting a Classic, it does not get any bigger than this and for the first time Southeast Texas fishing will be featured in a major way on a national level.
Sure, in the past, the Redfish Cup was here and other tournaments have aired on television but in terms of media coverage and credibility on the national scene Bassmaster dwarfs them all. It is the granddaddy of them all.
To some it almost seems strange that our area would hold such a prestigious event. After all, we are not known as a lunker bass haven.
The truth is there are many river tournaments in the Elite Series and many of the fisheries are comparable to ours. In other words, they have plenty of fish and there is a fair amount of quality bass in the population. Sure, there will no Sharelunker-sized 13-pounders caught but in reality that almost never happens even at tournaments on places like Sam Rayburn or Falcon.
This is about the best bass fishermen on the planet taking up the challenge of a river system very few if any of them have ever fished. This kind of scenario is what makes them great and I personally believe many anglers will be surprised with the weights.
At this point we are not aware of any boundaries so potential for fishing locations is still up for speculation but these anglers are used to make long hauls to find fish.
Many made a two-hour trek to Venice from New Orleans for the Bassmaster Classic in 2011 so if you think about areas within two hours of the launch on Simmons Drive you have a vast amount of territory to cover.
I have been blessed to get to personally know Rick Clunn, Kevin VanDam and Gerald Swindle and interview Iaconelli, Brauer, Grigsby and Edwin Evers many times.
Having spent time with these anglers the one thing I know for sure is they look at a new fishery is a great challenge. Sure, they like fishing locations where they have won in the past but new locales are exciting and the Sabine River and surrounding waters are perfect for this kind of event.
I sat in the boat with Gerald Swindle for one day of practice for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic a couple of years ago and was blown away at the precision at which these guys pick apart water. They know what to look for and it is exciting to think they will be fishing some of our favorite spots.
How cool would it be for VanDam to win the tournament fishing a spinnerbait at the Burned Out Bridge across the river in Louisiana or Brauer to flip a jig against some of the cypress stumps in the Neches and pull out a five pounder to put him over the top?
On the other hand, these guys might find fish in areas we ignore simply by virtue of their experience fishing all around the country.
Kudos to all of the officials in Orange who helped make this happen. We will have exclusive, in-depth coverage leading up to the big event and guarantee more stories and photos on our website than anyone else. This is a big deal and we know it.
The Bassmasters are coming to Southeast Texas.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)
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