The Bassmaster Elite Series Returns to Texas and the Sabine River

The Bassmaster Elite Series will return to Texas, where the Sabine River is healthier than it has ever been

Last year’s devastating Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged Houston and the rest of southeast Texas, may have had one positive effect: It seems to have helped fishing in the Sabine River system.

The 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge was originally slated to occur April 6-9, but because tournament waters were placed under flood advisories at that time, the tournament was postponed until June 7-10.

Traditionally, the Sabine River has been a very challenging body of water where every bite is critical to making a Top 50 paycheck. But according to Todd Driscoll, district fisheries biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Sabine River is healthier than it has ever been.

“Hurricane Harvey may have actually helped improve the fishery overall,” he said. “Storm surges that typically result in tidal and saltwater inflow, which kills many freshwater fish and vegetation, didn’t impact the Sabine since Harvey’s primary landfall was farther south. Instead the river received a dose of freshwater runoff from the heavy rain that occurred after the hurricane moved inland.”

The tournament also is likely to produce record crowds. Bassmaster fans’ loyalty has been a hot topic as of late. The 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at Lake Hartwell, March 16-18, crushed previous attendance records by attracting more than 143,300 bass fishing fanatics from across the nation.

Likewise, Orange, Texas, and the Sabine River are home to the second most attended regular season Bassmaster Elite Series event in history, drawing more than 33,650 fans. The current record was set in 2013 at Waddington, N.Y., on the St. Lawrence River, with 34,100 in attendance.

There’s a good chance the top-attendance record will return to Orange after the final fish hits the scales on June 10, Championship Sunday.

The trends indicate the growing interest occurring around the sport of professional bass fishing. Thanks to the combination of a competitive event carrying a $100,000 top payout and Texas’ strong fan base for fishing, this event will certainly be exciting.

The world’s best bass fishermen have converged on the Sabine River twice prior: 2013 and 2015. This year things are quite different following Hurricane Harvey and a new rule that restricts fishable waters.

Tournament waters include the Sabine River and its tributaries within the Texas counties of Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Galveston and Newton, where the minimum length for bass is 12 inches. Louisiana waters have been placed off-limits because of that state’s laws granting control of navigable waters to private property owners. A bill to restore access to public waters was defeated in the Louisiana Legislature this year, but proponents have vowed to continue pushing for the reform and have asked B.A.S.S. and bass anglers to support the cause.

Anglers should have plenty of fish to catch on the Texas waters, Driscoll believes.

“Based on our sampling data, I expect daily weights to go up compared to 2013 and 2015,” he continued. “The system is in the best shape we’ve ever experienced, and I expect the pros to demonstrate that over a four-day tournament.”

He also said that the fishery is known for kicking out substantial numbers of small fish, but it’s also very capable of producing five-bass limits of 3- and 4-pounders.

A large kicker bass is also a possibility.

“Just a couple of months ago, a local tournament weighed a 9-plus-pound largemouth. That’s a giant for this place. But to me, that indicates the river and all its connecting waters are in great shape. I think the anglers in competition and the fans in attendance will be pleasantly surprised,” Driscoll said.

Daily takeoffs will occur at 6:05 a.m. CT at the City of Orange Boat Ramp, and weigh-ins will begin at the same location at 3 p.m.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

Other Hunting

New Gear: MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag

G&F Staff

Perfect for competition or a day at the range.


Baitfish for Bass: Search, Suspend or Sink Crankbaits

Jason Houser - May 21, 2019

Crankbaits mimic exactly what they eat when hungry — other fish!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.

See More Stories

More News


Fla. Red Tide Forces Reg Changes for Snook, Redfish

Game & Fish Online Staff - August 31, 2018

FWC makes snook, redfish temporarily catch-and-release only in areas affected by red tide.


Gulf Red Snapper Could Be Worth $500 Each

G&F Online Staff - June 05, 2019

‘Great Red Snapper Count' includes angler incentives to report tagged fish.


IGFA Submissions: Biggest Australian Bass Ever?

G&F Online Staff - November 29, 2018

Recent world-record submissions to the International Game Fish Association.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.