Apr. 24—Home sweet home? Lee Livesay is hoping so.
Livesay, from the Kilgore-Liberty City area, is back in East Texas this week in his professional capacity: as one of about 100 pro fisherman on the Bassmaster Elite Series Tour, fishing on Lake Fork near Quitman in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite event all weekend.
The former Kilgore High School football standout was seventh after Thursday’s opening day, after catching five fish and a total of 25 pounds, six ounces.
The tournament continues all weekend, with the final weigh-in Sunday afternoon, around 3 p.m. See Livesay and the others compete on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) this morning and on Sunday morning. The fishermen hit the lake every morning this weekend at 6:45 a.m.
The event is being hosted by the Sabine River Authority and Wood County Economic Development Commission.
Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., took advantage of a dramatic increase in opportunity to sack up a five-bass limit of 32 pounds, 14 ounces to lead at the end of day one of the competition.
November saw Walters capture his first Elite title on Fork by topping the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with a four-day total of 104-12. In that fall event, Walters targeted standing timber, but Thursday’s leading limit came from staging areas outside the spawning pockets.
“My plan this morning was to start on shallow points and catch one or two fish,” Walters said. “When I got out there, I was surprised how many fish I started to see; it was like they multiplied from practice.
“I caught my first 7-pounder (around 7 a.m.) and I said, ‘That’s the fish I was here for.’ Then, I caught my second one and I was like, ‘Whoa, this may happen.'”
From there, Walters began running points and inspecting each spot with his Garmin Panoptix LiveScope. He reported finding bass grouped in numbers far exceeding anything he’d found in practice.
“Every point I started going to, the fish quadrupled on the places I found them, whereas in practice, on my starting spot, I caught one on a glidebait and it had one with it. I went back there today and there were 15 fish sitting on that spot.
“After that, I just starting running areas like that, and I’m pretty surprised what’s showing up. They almost seem prespawn, so I don’t know if that bite is going to get even better.”
Friday’s forecast after the News Herald’s print deadline included predictions for rainy, windy conditions in East Texas, and that could play well for Walters. Many of his competitors spent larger portions of their day sight fishing. A dimmer day will significantly limit that pursuit, but Walters is prepared to deal with any impacts on his game plan.
“You can’t control any of the variables, especially Mother Nature, so you just have to adapt and go with whatever you’re presented with,” he said. “We’re just going to go fishing tomorrow and stay on our toes, adapt as much as possible and hopefully get five good bites.”
Bassmaster.com contributed to this story.