Hot enough? Bassmaster Elite anglers not short of water while on water

ORANGE — Skeet Reese is a professional. He can take the heat.

“When I’m fishing, I don’t even think about the heat,” the former Bassmaster Classic champion from Auburn, California, said. “It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m always focused on getting a bite. It’s when we get in this boat ramp here and stop that you realize how much you’re sweating.”

Ray Hanselman Jr. of Del Rio knew how hot it could get while fishing.

“I’m going through 10 to 12 waters a day and a couple of Gatorades,” he said. “It’s brutal heat here. I’m from Del Rio, and it’s hot there, but nothing like this.”

The 91-degree afternoon Thursday under clear skies in Orange brought the heat index to 98 degrees. That might have been the only enemy that 108 competitors faced while fishing in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Sabine River.

Reese, a multimillion-dollar winner on the tour and 2009 Classic winner caught a 12-pound, 2-ounce bag Thursday in the four-day event. He took precautions to stay hydrated.

“And I drank way over a gallon today, and I’m still drinking,” said Reese, who’ll turn 49 on June 30.

Reese didn’t stay in the lead for long. Gonzales, Louisiana, angler Greg Hackney moved out front after his five-bass limit weighed 16-3.

“When the fishing’s this tough, catching a fish like that is almost like catching a whole limit on one bite,” the five-time BASS winner said. “If you can put four more with it — even four little ones — you’re probably going to be in pretty good shape.”

Matt Herren of Ashville, Alabama, moved into second place at 12-4, followed by Reese, Robbie Latuso (11-6) of Gonzales and Hanselman.

All weigh-ins are held at 3 p.m. each day at the Orange Boat Ramp, with the top 50 anglers after Friday moving on to Saturday’s round. The top 12 after Saturday will fish Sunday for the $100,000 first-place prize.

The tournament was moved from April because of flood advisories at the time. Temperatures in Southeast Texas were below normal then.

So much for cooler weather. But Reese said trying to catch a double-digit bag is much harder than beating the heat.

Hanselman managed 11-4, good for second.

“Catching a 3 ½ pounder is what you really need, at least one of them,” he said. “You get one of those good ones a day, that’ll get you in double digits. There are a lot of 12- to 14-inches in this fishery, but that 2 ½- to 4-pounder will really help you.”

Hackney nabbed a 5-14 bass Thursday morning. Then the fishing got tougher as the tide started out.

“I had one place where I was waiting for the water to come back, and I was expecting it to come back real clean,” he said. “Typically, that’s what would happen. But with so many people moving around later in the day, it really muddied the water.”

Reese said the key to winning is just finding a little area where the big biters are.

“There’ll be miles of dead water, and you’ve got to find one key little stretch where that little fishy is.”

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

 

 

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