Catching fire — Del Rio pro wins three straight FLW tournaments

Written by Conor Harrison, Lone Star Outdoor News

Ray Hanselman had a pretty good spring.

The longtime Amistad guide and 30-plus year tournament veteran has been on a roll never seen before in the Rayovac FLW Series — winning three straight tournaments.

In fact, nobody had ever won two in a row before Hanselman’s run.

It began on his home lake of Amistad in early February, when Hanselman used local knowledge to bring 50 pounds, 14 ounces to the scales after three days of fishing.

He carried the momentum from that win on to Sam Rayburn Reservoir in early April, when he beat the second-place angler by more than 7 pounds to claim another victory.

Hanselman topped it off the final week in April on Lake Texoma, when he battled high, muddy waters to cruise to the victory by 12 pounds — his third straight.

“I am pretty blessed,” Hanselman said. “It’s been overwhelming. The past three or four years, I have been fishing really consistent — being in the lead going into the final day or in the top 10. I’ve been working on the reasons I hadn’t been able to seal the deal. It came down to the mental aspect for me. I just began to really believe in what I was doing and stay committed.”

Hanselman said once he stopped worrying about things he couldn’t control, his began finishing tournaments.

“I felt good on Amistad,” he said. “I thought I could get a top 5 going in, but I got two or three good bites and ended up winning. On Sam Rayburn, I was flipping in the jungle and I managed to keep two or three fish a day that other guys broke off. Fishing like that, you can’t let a lost fish bother you.”

Hanselman arrived at Texoma a week before the tournament to get in six days of practice, and was met by rain and muddy, red water.

“The day I got there it flooded,” he said. “I had a general idea of where I wanted to be. When I got there, it had red water flowing through it. Most guys didn’t even mess with it, but I just kept checking those spots and those blood red spots began to clear. On Tuesday, I got a few bites and thought, ‘Huh.’ I was mainly throwing white spinner baits and frogs. I caught a 5-pounder in practice and pretty much realized I had that pattern to myself.”

Hanselman said the field keyed in on sight fishing in clear water, and the few boats that did pull into the coves he was working fished it fast and left.

“There weren’t many fish in there,” he said, “so you really had to pick it apart slowly. It all came together.”

On the final day, Hansleman had a limit by 1:30, and knew someone was going to have to catch 27 or 28 pounds to beat him.

“I caught those fish and took my time getting back to the weigh-in,” he said. “Once I won, there were a few times during the 8-hour drive back home where I got a little emotional. I didn’t even turn the radio on. The timing just worked out on every lake this year. Those are some great anglers I’m fishing against and I have all of the respect for them.”

Hanselman will fish the series championship on the Ohio River in October. He also has his sights set on one more big event.

“My goal is to make it to the Forrest Wood Cup,” he said. “To fish for that kind of money would be really cool.”