It is doubtful that any future Bassmaster event will ever again duplicate the hometown flavor that last weekend’s Sabine River Bassmaster Open produced.Having already made professional bass fishing a reality in Orange with the Bassmaster Elite event in 2013, Gofer Industrial owner, David Jones, along with friends John Gothia and Carl Svebeck once again lured the Bassmasters back for another tournament.

I feel certain it was a little easier task following the record setting crowds that attended the initial event.Even an overnight flood that forced fans to wade through floating ants could not deter the scores of folks that came to support their bass fishing heroes at that 2013 Bassmaster Elite Tournament.

Last weekend’s event was a little different in that the 185 pro-angler field included several local anglers fishing their first professional event ever.More importantly, they weren’t just local anglers filling the roster, but local fishermen that the crowd knew had a very real chance to win the whole thing.The huge crowds that gathered all three days knew this would be a hometown horse race and they had horses that could indeed run!

Jonathan Simon, the owner of Simon Outfitters, had not only done well in several of the latest Tuesday evening river events, but also caught several big bass while scouting.Trey Smith had also been on the kind of bass that could win the Open and his friends knew he had a legitimate chance as well.

Carl Svebek, an accomplished pro that had recently moved to Orange to work for his life-long friend, Jones, was considered by most to be Orange’s best chance to hold home field advantage. His experience could prove to be the difference maker!

Spectators that crowded the weigh-in stage the initial day held their breath hoping that their top notch local anglers had held their own and they were not disappointed.When all was said and done, they were even more nervous going into the second day as their favorites all finished with solid catches.

T-Roy Broussard, a Pt. Arthur pro better known for his ability to catch alligators than bass, announced after posting a leading 15.00 pounds that not only could he have done even better, but would do just that the following day.His second day catch, however, was four pounds lighter and while he still led, he left the door ajar. When the twelve finalists eased away from the dock Saturday morning, our three anglers and their co-anglers were still among those with a shot at the next Bass master Classic.

More importantly for the local fishermen sweating out their buddies, they were in the hunt with a chance to win it all on the final day.One or two fish like they had caught and released in practice could well earn them the top spot.

The crowd continued to build throughout the evening.Smith’s mother pretty much set the tone when she squeezed my arm and said, “I hope Trey slept better than I did last night.He has wanted to do this his entire life and now he has not only fulfilled his dream, but has a chance to actually win as well.”

When the final bass was weighed, however, it was not to be. Smith earned $5000 for his 9^th place finish and Simon took home $4000 for finishing in 11^th place.Svebek, however, filled a lifelong dream by besting Broussard’s third day catch by two pounds to win a shot at the Classic and $53,000. It was very refreshing to see a pro fishermen that has been at it for quite a while still unabashedly passionate about the sport and genuinely sincere about what this win meant to him.

Neither Smith nor Simon disappointed their supporters with their top twelve finishes or their approach on the final day.While the tournament was won in less than three feet of water, Smith stated after Friday’s weigh-in, “I am going to fish totally different water tomorrow.Even if I did as well as the leaders in the same water I couldn’t make up any ground and I am fishing to win.”

Simon told the crowd much the same thing.“For me it was going to be hero or zero.I ran north and broke off a six pound bass early that would have changed the game for me.I didn’t fish clean all week, but I fished hard.It was an exciting three days!

The Orange co-anglers also cashed in on the home field advantage factor.They also failed to avoid any of the pressure associated with winning that side of the tournament.If anything, it was even worse.

Michael Soliz of Orange eventually bested the other 185 co-anglers, but there were some anxious moments as he climbed up on the hot seat early and was forced to sweat out angler after angler.After holding Dane Thibodeaux off by only three ounces, he learned that he had actually tied with Jordan Burks.

As it would turn out, the 12 ¼ ounce bass that he caught at the last minute would break the tie.He had nine keepers and Burks had eight!

Even if you did not attend the tournament, thank David Jones, John Gothia and the folks that have made pro bass fishing a reality in Orange the next time you see one of them. Events of this caliber do not “just happen” without a healthy dose of persistence and hard work!