Cliff Crochet, Greg Hackney in top five Bassmaster Elite Series

ORANGE, Texas — Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part and Greg Hackney of Gonzales brought in five-bass limits to stand third and fifth, respectively, after Thursday’s first day of the Bassmaster Elite Series’ opener on the Sabine River.

Crochet weighed in 13 pounds; Hackney’s catch was 11-13.

Arizona’s Dean Rojas held the lead with a 15-10 total, a catch that was anchored by the day’s 5-15 big bass.

Former Bassmaster Classic champion Mark David of Arkansas was second at 13-13, and North Carolinian Hank Cherry, fresh from a third-place finish in last month’s 43rd Classic, stands fourth at 12-11.

Most anglers said they had little trouble catching bass, but that finding 14-inch long “keepers” was the problem. Recently crowned Classic champion Cliff Pace had four bass weighing 7-11, while the legendary Kevin VanDam managed to bring only three bass weighing 8-2 to the scales.

Dennis Tietje of Roanoke and Clark Rheem of Shreveport are the only other Louisiana anglers in the near 100-angler field. Tietje’s first-day total was 2-14, while Rheem had a 3-3.

There were 13 anglers that did not weigh a fish.

The field will be cut to the top 50 after Friday’s second round and to the top 12 for Sunday’s finale.

Live weigh-ins for the four-day event are scheduled for 3:15 p.m. daily on the Bassmaster website: http://www.bassmaster.com.