East Texas pro proves Lake Fork remains king of bass fishing

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat
Lee Livesay, a part-time guide at Lake Fork and a full-time competitor on the Bassmaster Elite Series, claimed his second blue trophy in the last 12 months as he weighed a limit for the ages on Sunday at Lake Fork.

If there was ever any doubt about the king of Texas bass fishing waters — here's looking at you, O.H. Ivie — Longview angler Lee Livesay slammed the door on all such speculation last weekend.

After three solid days on the 27,264-acre reservoir near Quitman, Livesay had a Championship Day for the ages last Sunday as he caught and weighed five bass tipping the scales at a staggering 42-pounds, 3-ounces.

That pushed Livesay’s four-day total to 20 bass weighing a staggering 112 pounds, five ounces, more than 10 pounds ahead of the runner-up spot occupied by Patrick Walters, as he claimed his second Bassmaster Elite Series trophy in the last 12 months (Livesay won at Chickamauga last fall) and the $100,000 winner’s check at Fork.

The epic final day also propelled Livesay into the vaunted “Bassmaster Elite Series Century Club,” an exclusive fraternity that now has 32 members after he and Walters pushed across the 100-pound threshold in four days of competition.

“I have no words right now, it’s amazing,” Livesay told Bassmaster.com writer David A. Brown after his win. “I’ve been around them, but I haven’t caught any big ones all week; I just survived. Everything just worked out and it never goes like that.”

I’ll say everything worked out — Livesay’s smallest fish last Sunday checked in at seven pounds, six ounces!

“I caught big ones everywhere I went,” Livesay said to Brown. “I started off with big ones (including a 9-2 at 7:14 a.m.) and ended with big ones (with a 7-14 at 1:10 p.m.). It was just one of those surreal days, and it was amazing because I’ve spent a lot of time on this lake."

Livesay, who has guided on this lake in the past, spent his tournament time rotating among secondary points in the Little Caney Creek area. Focusing on big bass chasing gizzard shad, a bar extending off a small island proved key as he got into casting range of the schooling bass.

While Livesay caught fish throughout the event on a mixture of baits that included a 3:16 Lure Company line-through Rising Son swimbait, a 3:16 Lure Company Work Horse glidebait, a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait, a Carolina rig with a Netbait Little Spanky, and a 6th Sense Magnum Squarebill, another bait stole the show on Sunday.

That bait was a bone color Heddon Saltwater Super Spook, which accounted for his five bass limit on Championship Day as he cast the topwater plug on a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Halo HFX cranking rod and 40-pound braided line. That combination enabled him to remain far away from the spooky schooling fish, and yet still get his casts into the big bass’ wheelhouse as they fed on the big gizzards.

“Those fish are wanting to feed up and they’re seeing so many swimbaits, they’re just not eating them,” Livesay said to Brown. “I kept getting bites and I kept throwing it.

“Working that big topwater really erratic and just getting them to react was the deal. I think they really think it’s a shad.”

While the East Texas pro had solid days all week — he weighed 25-6 on Day 1, 17-14 on Day 2, and 26-14 on Day 3 — it was the epic final day that helped him achieve glory on his home water body.

“I’ve spent thousands of days with clients and fun fishing on this lake,” Livesay said to Brown. “I never thought I had it (on Sunday). I knew I was around them, but I never thought I’d catch 42 pounds.

“So, doing it in front of family and friends, and a lot of sponsors were here, too, it’s just amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Certainly not at Lake Fork, the long standing king of Texas big bass fishing.