Big Bag Pushes Hanselman Ahead - Major League Fishing

Big Bag Pushes Hanselman Ahead

Can anyone stop Hanselman?
Image for Big Bag Pushes Hanselman Ahead
Ray Hanselman unloads his giant bag of fish into the official Strike King AOY leader weigh bag. Photo by Jesse Schultz. Angler: Ray Hanselman.
May 1, 2015 • David A. Brown • Archives

It’s the question of the day, the question of the week; indeed, it’s the question of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division season: Will we see the trifecta from Ray Hanselman? With the Del Rio, Texas pro leading the final division event on Lake Texoma with 40 pounds, 4 ounces, it appears that the stage is set for a third installment of Hanselmania.

What’s that, you ask? Nothing less than the frenzy of interest and amazement surrounding Hanselman’s back-to-back wins at the Texas Division’s first two tournaments on Lake Amistad (his home lake) and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

Hanselman positioned himself well on day one after taking third place with 17-2. Friday, he added 23-2 — the event’s heaviest bag — and surged to the top of the field with a lead of 8-6.

Ray Hanselman

“I’m floored,” a visibly astounded Hanselman said at weigh-in. “I haven’t caught a 2-pounder the last two days; they’re all big fish. I just wanted to win the Angler of the Year and now I think I have a chance to win this (tournament.)”

Both days, Hanselman has opted to forego the traditional sight-fishing game with which many of his competitors have struggled.

“I’m looking at them, but I’m not sight fishing — I’m watching them eat the bait,” he notes. “I caught some flipping, but moving baits have been the main deal.”

Also important, Hanselman says, is his choice of locations. He’s not necessarily fishing any particularly unique habitat features — it’s mostly the same kind of shallow brush many others are fishing — but it’s the dynamics surrounding his that differ from the rest. The difference, he says, is the water.

“I’m just fishing water that other people haven’t fished,” Hanselman confesses. “These fish are green. We had a (recent) flood and the creeks were (deeply stained). They were left alone for three days because nobody practiced in them. The creeks are not clear, but they’re clearing up enough that you can fish them.

“I’m targeting creeks that fish were probably spawning in. I think a lot of the fish I’m catching are guarding fry or they’re in the vicinity of where they spawn. You can tell by looking at them (thinner physiques), they’re done, but they’re hungry.”

Hanselman, who caught nine keepers in the tournament's second round, says he has been careful to manage his fish for the past two days. Yesterday, he started on a smallmouth pattern, but ended up getting all of his weight in largemouths after 10:30. Today, he went right to the green fish and had his deal done by late morning.

“I was done at 10:30 today and then I just went looking,” Hanselman adds. “While I was looking, I  culled twice. I saw an area where I normally fish and I just ran in there and found a 5-pounder and a 4-pounder. Then I just stopped setting the hook on them.

“At the end of the day, I didn’t even jerk. I just let them have it and let it go.”

Hanselman fished the same general area on days one and two, but expanded his range with Friday afternoon’s additional recon. He’s not resting on his lead; in fact, he intends to swing hard tomorrow.

“I don’t know about another 23-pound bag, but I feel pretty confident in 15 pounds,” he says.


Lejeune Retains Co-angler Lead

Ryan Lejeune

Texoma was far less generous for Ryan Lejeune, but the co-angler for Eunice, La., managed to maintain his co-angler division lead with a two-day total of 18-9 pounds. To his day-one limit of 12-4, Lejeune added two keepers for 6-5 on day two.

Lejeune spent the first half of the second round searching for bites, trying various baits and presentations. Finally, fortune smiled and Lejeune’s day changed significantly.

“It was very tough, but around noon, I threw my Senko toward some shallow cover and hooked a 3-pounder,” he recalls. “I put that fish in the livewell, threw my Senko right back to the same spot and caught another 3-pounder.

“They were twins!”

When his day-two pro offered him a choice of habitat, Lejeune opted for brush and weeds in about 4 feet of water. The key areas, he noted, were alive with activity.

“The area where I fished yesterday we could see baitfish, we could see (bass) fry and we could see gizzard shad,” Lejeune says. “Everywhere I fished the first four or five hours was a dead zone. But when we found the bait, that’s when I caught my two.”

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