The second day of the Bassmaster Elite Series “Sabine River Challenge” saw big changes on the leaderboard.
A strong south wind changed the fishing in dynamics in some areas and the opening of refuges in Louisiana gave anglers who do not mind a long run some unique opportunities to score on big fish.
Jasper native Todd Faircloth was an odds on favorite to win by many local anglers and today he showed why. He caught a super impressive 16-pound 8-ounce bag raising his total to 26 pounds, 15-ounces.
Thursday’s leader Dean Rojas caught five fish and was able to stand strong at second place with a total of 26-pounds, 8-ounces. Third place belongs to Louisiana favorite Cliff Crochet who has a 25-pound two-day total.
“Big Show” Terry Scroggins is in fourth with big help from his 6 pound, 1-ounce lunker that took big fish of the day honors.
Living legend Kevin VanDam made the other anglers uneasy creeping into eighth place with 20-pounds, 6 ounces.
“A tournament like this has a lot of dynamics. Fishing a tournament is always like putting together a puzzle and when you have so much water to fish and much of it has tidal influence, it makes things challenging. You just have to stay positive and be willing to make the right adjustments,” VanDam said.
The third day of competition sees the field cut to 50 anglers and number two all-time money winner Skeet Reese said he was happy to make it.
“I went back and did the same thing I did on day one and it didn’t work out too well but I made the cut and will go back tomorrow focused and ready to do my best,” he said.
The biggest talk of the day was fan favorite Mike Iaconelli crashing his boat in the Neches River system. He and his marshal were unscathed but the boat had to be pulled out off of the trees. There have been several boat incidents but the maintenance crew said it is not out of the norm.
When Iaconelli’s incident started making the rounds, I overhead one of the fans saying, “That’s not going to stop Ike. He never gives up.”
This event has shown local anglers that professional fishermen face trials just like everyone else and also has shown the anglers how much the people of our region respect them and enjoy what they do.
“This has probably been the most hospitable place we have ever held a tournament,” said Kevin Short.
VanDam echoed those sentiments noting that, “When we go into a gas station or out to eat people are telling us they are so happy to have us here. That and the turnout at the weigh-ins has been something special and makes it a really enjoyable experience.”
Saturday’s weigh-in begins at 3:15 with the festival and expo open at 11 a.m.
Friday’s Top 10
1. Todd Faircloth: 26-15
2. Dean Rojas: 26-8
3. Cliff Crochet: 25-0
4. Terry Scroggins: 24-5
5. Mark Davis: 22-3
6. Ish Monroe: 21-12
7. Jeff Kriet: 21-6
8. Kevin VanDam: 20-6
9. Mike McLelland: 18-4
10. Bill Lowen: 18-4