The public got a sneak peek on March 14 of the anglers -along with their boats and trucks- who will be fishing in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament as they registered at Baptist Orange Hospital.

The tournament will be held on March 19-22 at the City of Orange Boat Ramp on the Sabine River. The Orange County River Festival is presented by Stark Cultural Venues and Gopher Industrial, and hosted by the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce.

Around 50 anglers arrived early to register for the 2 p.m. start. Everyone else made it in before the 4 p.m. deadline.

Fred Roumbanis is an angler from Grand Lake, Oklahoma.

He said he had a lot of fun at the first tournament in 2013 and he couldn’t wait to come back when he discovered there would be another one in Orange in 2015.

“It’s awesome. The fishery is huge,” he said. “I think there will be a lot more catching this time. Last time, a 12 pound bag a day would win it. A 13 or 14 pound bag a day may win this one.”

Roumbanis and other fishermen said the biggest challenge for this tournament will be the rainfall and the Toledo Bend Reservoir letting out floodwater down river.

But whether the waters are clear or muddy, Roumbanis thinks the fishing will be “awesome.”

Roumbanis has been watching two to three particular areas a day to fish, especially the backwater areas.

A win at this tournament at the beginning of the year would be just fine with Roumbanis because it would qualify him for the Bassmaster Classic- the Super Bowl of fishing at the end of the season.

“Winning it would be awesome. I would be ahead in points and I would have the upper hand advantage,” he said. “Orange is fantastic. It’s one of the greatest venues we have. Everyone has Southern hospitality and the food is great.”

Roumbanis said the tournament will also bring in visitors to the motels, restaurants and money for the city.

“It adds up to a lot of dollars,” he said.

Chris Lane hails from Alabama.

He also fished in the tournament here two years ago and is “really excited” to be back.

“We don’t expect to see 20 pound bags,” he said. “It’s a unique experience. It will be wide open.”

Lane said he saw one of the largest crowds for a Bassmaster tournament in Orange in 2013. He added he’s also looking forward to eating some crawfish while he’s here.

“It will be a good time; win, lose or draw,” he said.

Lane and the other fishermen expect to be fishing from muddy water, to saltwater, to fresh water, to brackish water, and like Roumbanis, Lane thinks a 12 pound bag a day may win the tournament.

“We cover a lot of water in our practice sessions. We may be in Louisiana, in Texas and the Sabine,” he said. “A win would be huge, especially with so many people here.”

He added Orange has been very hospitable and exciting.

“The people here have a sense of gratitude. People love the sport of bass fishing here. I love coming to Texas. Everyone is so nice here,” Lane said.

Lane won the Classic in 2012. Fellow angler, Skeet Reese who will be competing, also won the Classic before.

Kelly Jordon calls himself a Texian from Dallas.

He said the rainfall has thrown the anglers a curve ball by creating high waters and muddy waters.

“Practice starts tomorrow (March 15). You have to pick your areas and explore them,” Jordon said of what’s going through his mind. “You have to know how far a run you want to make, how fart do you want to catch them. Do you have enough gas to make it there and back. Do you have time to fish, are there floating objects in the way.

On another note, Jordon said he glad to be back in the great State of Texas and that Orange is a dynamic town.

“It’s great to be home. Winning in my home state would be awesome,” he said. “I want to encourage people to come out and see us. We finally have the sun out (on last Sunday).”

Photo – Anglers arrive early to register and have their boats inspected for this weekend’s Bassmasters Elite Series Tournament. The tournament is being held at the City of Orange Boat Ramp on Simmons Dr. March 19-22. There will be vendors booths with food and crafts and music from Dustin Lynch on Thursday at the boat ramp, Trouth Fishing in America outside the Lutcher Theater, Casey Chestnutt opening for Tracy Byrd at the boat ramp on Friday.