If you look back at Brock’s finishes, you will see that his first blue trophy seemed kinda inevitable: Guys typically don’t get a bunch of 2nds and not git ‘er done, and one of those 2nds was on the Sabine in 2021. Here’s how he got it done at the small-fish Sabine River.
Going in and practice
> “I learned early in my Elite career that if you do well doing something on camera and expose it, you can pretty much wipe that from the memory bank. Guys do their homework and know where you caught them and how you caught them. That place over there in Houston [where he fished in 2021] is not a very big area. It can’t hold up to very many boats.
> “So I wasn’t even going to worry about it. …got wind 5-6 boats were there…definitely not going now….
> “I started my practice in Taylors [Bayou]. In 2018…I ended up finishing 12th and caught all my fish in there, in June.
> “I was running some old stuff I caught ’em fishing around in 2018, and caught a bunch of fish. But I didn’t catch very many with size…nothing over a pound and a half. One of my roommates, Brad Whatley, went the same day and caught several good-quality fish, 2-3 lbers over there.
> “Taylors is my favorite place to fish, and knowing he got some better-quality fish…if I found nothing else, I’d go to Taylors and see if I can grind out 7-8 lbs every day.
> “The 2nd and 3rd days of practice I fished the Sabine…found those fish close to the ramp. I have a full-time videographer that travels with me, and I took him back to the ramp around lunch. It was hot and sunny, there was no need for him to be out there. …dropped him off and I was like, Let me pull in here and see if I can get a bite.
> “I got 5-6 bites down that one stretch – 1.5-1.75 lbers, which is a good average to above-average keeper on the Sabine.
> “I decided to to stay on the Sabine on day 3 [of practice]. The initial gameplan for the tournament was stay close on the Sabine in the morning, to see if I can capitalize on the early morning bite and try to get 7.5-8 lbs, then run to Taylors to see if I can upgrade or catch a big one.”
> “The first morning of the tournament I actually lost 2 really good fish that would have pushed me up to the 10-lb mark first thing in the morning. I ended up going to Taylors…catching my 2 best fish of the day there.” [He had 9-15.]
> “Day 2 I had a way better morning. I left the Sabine with 10.5 lbs and was feeling really confident. I hadn’t seen another boat. I was fishing those areas til about 8:30-9:00 every morning and pretty much had them to myself. Knowing the Sabine, the further you go [into the tournament], the more guys stay close and try to find retreads. I was kinda worried about that.
> “I ended up going to Taylors…culled 2-3 times to upgrade to 11.5 lbs.
> “Day 3 I started on fire again. I finally ran into that big bite…like a 4.5-lber, my 6th keeper of the day in the first 30 minutes. I already had over 10 lbs…that really calmed me down. It slowed me down.
> “…almost 13 lbs [12-14] in the first couple hours. I ended up making the run to Taylors and caught 6 or 7, but none of them helped.
> “Day 4 I had a 3-lb lead – that’s a huge lead for the Sabine River. I knew as many fish as I was catching – 25-30 fish a day…I knew I should be able to catch at least 7-8 lbs close and then [other guys in the top 10] would have to have 10 lbs or more to beat me.
> “I caught 8.5 lbs in the first 30 minutes, and that slowed me down…gonna stay here and see if I can cull throughout the day – see if I can get to that 10-lb mark and make these guys beat me. I didn’t want to beat myself….
> “I replayed in my memory that Christie won in 2021 and had about 8.5 lbs the final day, and Hackney won in 2018 and had less than 7 lbs the final day. I was on track with those guys and maybe a little more.
> “At times I was second-guessing myself [about staying in the river], but around 11:00 I ended up catching one that helped. Just a 1/4 lb or so, but it really calmed me down…Okay I got this. Shortly after that I caught another one which helped another 1/4 lb…I made the right decision [to stay]. I caught another one [to cull up] at about 2:00…to seal it up.
> “That day I moved around the Sabine but didn’t get further than 5 miles from takeoff.”
> “I had one stretch on the Sabine where I caught most of my fish on…other places where I stopped and got some bites. The thing about the Sabine – the whole Sabine system is real ‘stretchy’ is best way to put it. You’ll get bites in a stretch and all of a sudden you’ll quit getting bit…can go a mile or more without getting bit.
> “…one main stretch – I’m not sure what you would call it. It was a place…where they push a boat up on a bank to work on it. It had concrete rails in the water, and concrete rails horizontal with the bank. It went like 300 yards. I don’t what made the fish key on that – bait or crabs or what.
> “In the morning I’d throw a topwater over the rails…was not concentrating on the bank. Wherever those rails would meet, I’d throw the topwater over those rails. They were more or less slurping on it…real subtle bite.
> “The topwater bite lasted maybe 2 hours depending on the sun. The bank I was catching most of my fish on was exposed to the sun so I had maybe an hour. That’s when I would swap to the power shot…around the rails as well, all the way out to 15′ deep.
> “In Taylors I was flipping pads – with the same bait I was power-shotting.”
> Power shot: 4″ Yamamoto Senko (junebug and blue laminate “mainly because of the blue crab. I alternated between the 2 because I was going through so many.”) 2/0 Trokar EWG Hook rigged weedless, 1/4-oz dropshot weight, 17-lb P-Line Fluoro (heavier line because “the rails were real rusted – I broke several off”), Ark Gravity 7 Reel (7.3), 7′ 6″ MHF Ark Invoker Pro Series Rod.
> TX rig: Same bait, same hook, pegged 1/8-oz Woo Tungsten Weight, 15-lb P-Line fluoro, same reel, 7′ 3″ MHF Ark Invoker Pro Rod.
> Rebel Pop-R (“chrome sexy shad” = “foxy momma”? 90 size?) with #4 Trokar Round Bend Trebles (feather on the back hook), 50-lb P-Line Braid (“to pull it free instead of having to go get it”), Ark Gravity 5 Reel (6.3), 6′ 8″ M Ark Invoker Pro Series Rod.
> “The final day I caught one of my best fish on a 1/2-oz Angler Assets Spinnerbait” (white, double willow, no trailer but with trailer hook), 15-lb P-Line fluoro, Ark Gravity 7 Reel (7.3), 7′ 3″ MHF Invoker Pro Series Rod.
> “The first 2 days I had the areas to myself, caught ’em pretty quick and just left. On day 3 I had more company, stayed a lot longer and got to where I was using my Garmin LiveScope for…just being accurate with my casts, seeing exactly where those rails met.
> “Also my Power-Poles when I was flipping lily pads.”
> “Hank Cherry was the one who told me about the power shot. He said, ‘I think they like it better sitting off the bottom.’ I actually started throwing it in practice and got a little bit of confidence in it. I found [his main area] when I was flipping a TX rig. I wondered if they’d eat the power shot and they seem to like it better.
> “Having my Dakota Lithium batteries, I could go multiple long hot days and not have to charge – it was pretty awesome. It takes that stress off your shoulders.
> “As hot as it was last week, I was glad to have my Huk gear. I’ve made such a habit out of fishing with their sun gloves and their buffs. It’s not a bad habit to have – I’ve made it a really strong habit to fish with gloves the last 3-4 years and I encourage everyone to do that. Cover up your hands, face and ears. Those Huk gaiters you can really breathe with them on, they’re real comfortable.”