ORANGE, Texas — Fishing pro Todd Faircloth of Jasper won the Bassmaster Elite Series Sabine River Challenge on Sunday, besting Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., by 6 pounds, 10 ounces on the final day of competition.
Faircloth’s win — his fourth Elite Series title and second in Texas — was a victory in a four-day tug-of-war with Rojas. Rojas led the first day, then Faircloth took the lead away from him on Day 2. The third day, Rojas got it back and led Faircloth by 3-9, a considerable deficit on the Sabine River system. But Faircloth pulled away on Day 4 by weighing a 14-9 limit, easily getting the best of Rojas, who had a single fish Sunday that weighed 4-6.
Faircloth’s final weight in the season opener of the Elite Series was 49 pounds, 6 ounces. His prize was $100,000 and an instant entry into next year’s Bassmaster Classic. Faircloth also took the lead in the season-long points race to win the sport’s coveted 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.
Rojas finished with 42-12, ahead of Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., second with 41-1; Ish Monroe, fourth with 40 pounds; and Bill Lowen of Brookville, Ind., fifth with 38-3.
Faircloth targeted fish in an area he described as a “bayou off a bayou” off the Taylor River. It was a flat, baylike area 3/4-mile long and 400 to 500 yards wide. He worked that same area back and forth for four days. Most of the fish were probably on spawning beds, but he couldn’t actually see the beds.
“It’s a vast, wide-open area, and the fish were scattered throughout it,” he said in a news release. “I marked my trails on my GPS, and if I didn’t get bit, I wouldn’t work that trail again.”
He said he caught most of his fish on a 5-inch Strike King Swim’n Caffeine Shad soft jerkbait. He alternated between pearl-blue/glimmer-back and watermelon-red color patterns. He used a 1/16-ounce weight to Texas rig the bait. But if he missed a hookup on a hit, he grabbed a rod rigged with a 5-inch Strike King Ocho stickworm in the double header color, also Texas rigged, but with a 1/8-ounce weight. He was able to keep the Ocho in the strike zone longer to get the missed fish, he said.
The Elite Series moves on Zapata for the March 21-24 Rigid Industries Falcon Slam, the second of eight regular season events.