Lee Livesay didn’t win the Bassmaster Elite Tour event last weekend at Lake Champlain, in New York, as he did in April at Lake Fork, but he did earn another top-10 finish.
Livesay and about 50 of the best fishermen the Bassmaster Elite series has to offer converged on Plattsburgh, N.Y., last week, and for four days, fished as a part of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster event there.
Livesay graduated from Kilgore High School in 2004, and played football for then-coach Mike Vallery and the Ragin’ Red, helping them as a defensive back to get deep into the playoffs – until running into Matthew Stafford, Clayton Kershaw and Highland Park in a fourth-round game at Tyler’s Rose Stadium that KHS fans still talk about to this day.
Livesay spent a lot of time on the water in high school, and it’s paying off now, as he’s recognized among the best in the world.
In New York, though, Brian Schmitt of Maryland led for much of the event, then fell behind in a flurry of activity around noon on Sunday. But 15 minutes before the event’s final weigh-in that afternoon, Schmitt landed a three-and-a-half-pound smallmouth bass that boosted him 12 ounces, enough to give Schmitt his first Bassmaster Elite win, a four-day total of 78 pounds, five ounces.
That gives you some idea of how wild the Lake Fork win was for Livesay – Livesay went well over 100 pounds at Lake Fork, and still had to hold off Patrick Waters to win the event.
Schmitt held off a hard charge from another Texas pro Keith Combs of Huntington, who finished with 77-13 — just 8 ounces behind the leader.
To catch his bass, Schmitt used a Spro Spin John, a Neko-rigged Missile Baits Quiver Worm and a Missile Baits Ned Bomb on a drop-shot rig.
Combs, who was in 16th place going into Saturday’s semifinal round, dialed in a topwater strategy for big smallmouth and caught 20-14 to jump into third heading into Championship Sunday.
Minnesota pro Seth Feider, who came into the event just needing to avoid a total crash and burn to maintain his lead in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, did far more than simply survive. He finished in fourth place behind Schmitt, Combs and Texas pro Chris Zaldain. Livesay is in the top-10 in the angler of the year standings, as well.
With his fourth Top 10 of the season, Feider now has 699 points and holds a commanding lead over his closest competitors, Walters of South Carolina (644) and Canadian Chris Johnston (630). Livesay is seventh, with 579 points.
But Feider believes it will take something catastrophic to keep him from winning the AOY title now — and for that reason, he plans to stay close to the takeoff site during this weekend’s season-ending Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River, once again in the northeastern portion of the U.S.
Combs took home an additional $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, while Zaldain earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.
Emily Hartley contributed to this story.