Sticking with a bold plan, but making key adjustments was the winning formula for Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., whose four-day total of 43 pounds, 15 ounces topped the Dovetail Games Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River sponsored by Bassmaster Fishing 2022 – the official video game of B.A.S.S.
Claiming his sixth Bassmaster victory, Christie posted his best effort on Day 1 with a second-place limit of 15-1. He took over the top spot on Friday by adding 13-14 and held that position on Day 3 with a limit of 6-12. He closed the deal with a Championship Sunday limit that weighed 8-4.
After entering the final round with a 15-ounce lead over Day 1 leader Brock Mosley, Christie edged Mosley by a margin of 1-6.
For four days, Christie committed the majority of his time to a narrow creek about two hours upriver from takeoff. Locating the spot in practice, Christie recognized its mix of shallow wood and cut banks as prime bass habitat, while the distant run discouraged all but one competitor from fishing the area.
“There’s a lot of backwaters downriver from this area, but then there’s like a 20-mile stretch where there’s nothing until you get to this spot,” Christie said. “The first two days of the event it was super treacherous to run; there were logs, sandbars, stuff like that. That’s what kept people from going up there."
After two strong days of skillfully picking apart the visible cover, Christie returned to his spot on Day 3 to find it 6 to 7 feet deeper. Increased water releases from Toledo Bend Dam swelled the upper Sabine and inundated his creek.
“Before the water came up, there were isolated targets and it wasn’t hard,” Christie said. “But once it came up, it was almost impossible. That’s why today I ran as far up that thing as I could.
“The further you get, the banks get higher and there wasn’t as much back flow coming from the river. That was my goal today — to get to where I could keep the fish between the bank and me.”
Knowing his best option was covering water quickly, Christie relied on a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white/blue Booyah Covert spinnerbait with tandem nickel and gold Colorado blades. This bait equally appealed to the creek’s largemouth and spotted bass.
“With the largemouth, you had to lay it on the bank; it’s almost like their backs would be out of the water,” Christie said. “The spotted bass would be in the current around the eddies.”
While Christie’s 21-foot XPress aluminum boat was ideal for the shallow habitat he fished, fuel management was essential for ensuring he could make the return trip. After a strong Day 1 performance, he had to allow for the weight of a cameraperson and gear.
Removing approximately 150 pounds of tackle and 14 of his usual 20 rods helped, but Christie noted that the higher water of Days 3 and 4 slightly reduced his fuel consumption by allowing him to safely run a straighter course through the Sabine’s many turns.
Carefully calculating his fuel plan and running time, Christie allowed himself a generous return window each day. Reaching the takeoff area with approximately an hour to spare, he flipped shallow targets with a black/blue flake YUM Spine Craw.
On Sunday, that strategy allowed him to make two small culls that contributed to his winning margin.
Christie took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Mosley earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
As part of the Yamaha Power Pay program, Christie also earned $4,000 for winning while Cook claimed an additional $1,500 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
The tournament was hosted by the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce.