Svebek surges to Central Open victory in hometown

Published 7:28 pm Saturday, June 17, 2017

ORANGE — Carl Svebek III will get to live out his lifelong dream next year. He’s fishing in the Bassmaster Classic, considered the Super Bowl of fishing.

That is, as long as he fishes in the final Bassmaster Central Open at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Oklahoma in October.

As far as winning the Central Open on the Sabine River on Saturday, his sister, Michelle McCollum, couldn’t be any happier.

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“I am so proud,” she said. “There is no one more deserving than Carl. He’s an all-around good person. He has faith, and there’s no better time to win than Father’s Day.”

Svebek, a 50-year-old father himself, made this weekend memorable with a come-from-behind victory Saturday. He caught a 12-pound, 3-ounce bag of the maximum five fish to overtake two-round leader T-Roy Broussard of Port Arthur for the victory after trailing by 19 ounces.

“The best part about it is being here with friends and family,” Svebek said. “Having the people who are close that I see every day around Orange, and to have them here share it with me, means more than anything.”

Broussard, a Port Arthur fireman best known for his alligator hunting adventures on the History Channel show “Swamp People”, caught 10 pounds flat on day 3.

“Carl deserved to win,” Broussard said. “I fished like crap today. I should have had 16 or 17 pounds today, and I couldn’t get them in the boat. I lost a 5, 4 and 3 [pounder] in the boat.”

Orange was victorious twice over Saturday. While Svebek won the professional division, fellow resident Michael Soliz won the co-angler division in a tiebreaker over Jordan Burks of Joplin, Mo. Both caught 19-2 for the tournament (co-anglers had a three-fish daily limit), but Soliz won the top prize of a Triton four-stroke boat and motor package by virtue of most fish caught (9 to 8).

Svebek earned $8,000 and a Skeeter boat along with a trophy and a spot in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina. The tournament winner in each Open division — Southern, Northern and Central — qualifies for the Classic as long as he competes in all three opens within that division.

It’s not a bad prize package 18 months after returning to professional angling. Svebek fished in the Bassmaster Elite Series, the top circuit in B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) and the FLW Tour for 14 years through 2010, but he gave up fishing to spend more time with his children after going through a divorce.

“I didn’t change strategy a lot,” Svebek said. “I was fishing an area I knew had a lot of decent fish in it. I was catching a lot. I just had to pray for that patience because I had to wait a lot and wait it out because I was catching anywhere from 75 to 100 fish a day. … Lo and behold, about 1 o’clock today, I caught a 4-pounder, and that was a bit of a game-changer.”

The weigh-in was at 3 p.m.

It’s also an emotional win for Svebek, whose father passed away in 2006. McCollum said their dad was the reason Svebek fishes today.

“He was definitely the man who influenced me and took me out when it was hot and it was cold,” said Svebek, who grew up in Nacogdoches and got his start in bass fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn. “He always saw to it I was able to go. There weren’t many minutes through speaking [to the crowd] and getting this victory I didn’t think about my dad. I thought about him a lot today.”

Broussard said the water conditions on the Sabine weren’t bad, but he just didn’t execute.

“The way I was fishing, it was hard to get them out,” Broussard said, noting it was his best career result. “God decided this before it even happened. I’m happy with my result.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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