"I think it'll take 12 pounds a day," Celestine said. "I had 9 pounds this last weekend — and the water conditions were horrible."
The Elite Series will hold it's season opener on the Sabine River March 14-17, and the word is that some of the pros will make long runs to the Calcasieu and Mermentau rivers.
Celestine said those are definitely options, but the run to those rivers are gambles.
"You can run to the Calcasieu, but at noon those fish shut down for some reason," he said.
He also said some pros are talking about running up Texas' Bayou Taylor, but Celestine said he'd probably sit tight and pound on the Sabine if he were fishing the event.
"It can be done right here on this river," Celestine said. "Usually, I can get 12 pounds, 13 pounds on the river.
"When they're spawning, I can get 18 pounds a day."
But he said he doubted there would be many spawners left by mid March.
"On a regular year, they're done (spawning) by now," he said in late February. "But since we've had so much rain, and with this long winter we've had, it's pushed them back."
That said, Celestine said he had been seeing plenty of bass fry on the river — and he already had found some pockets off the river holding 60- to 61-degree water. So he doubted that targeting fat sows would be the ticket to victory.
That doesn't mean he would expect the win to come from deep fish.
"The deepest I'll fish is 5 to 10 feet deep," Celestine said.
He put his bet on three baits choices: ⅛- to ¼-ounce double-Colorado spinnerbaits, small green-pumpkin jigs and white flukes.
And the pros need to get ready to get their hands slimy, because they should get plenty of bites.
"I probably caught 40 (fish) under 11 inches Saturday morning," Celestine said. "They're going to have to wee through a lot of small fish."
All fish brought to scales must be 14 inches because the weigh-in will be on the Texas side of the border waters.
He said the key to bites will be finding clean water adjacent to drains.
"That's gold on that river," Celestine said.