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“The main factor for us today was definitely the rising tide,” said Merlaud , a sophomore majoring in Freshwater Fisheries Biology. “We caught seven fish throughout the day, and all came before the slack tide at 10 a.m.”
“We pre-fished for two days before this tournament and we felt pretty good coming in to it,” said Directo. “We keyed in on one key stretch of sparse tules and flats, and when the tide was up, it was on. We fished one long stretch – about the size of a football field – near Mandeville Island.”
“Our very first fish of the day came on a white Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog,” Merlaud continued. “It was a good one – 7 pounds, 2 ounces. After that first bite we had a pretty good stretch where we didn’t get any bites. We ended up switching to a green-pumpkin Z-Man ChatterBaits with either Big Texan- or green-pumpkin-colored Culprit Incredi Craw trailers and caught the rest of our fish.”
“I think the switch to the ChatterBait was the key to our win,” Directo added. “A lot of teams were fishing for the reaction bites, but the green-pumpkin ChatterBait was the deal.
“I can’t wait to get back to the Conference Championship at Clear Lake,” Directo went on to say. “We qualified for the tournament last year but had a real tough event and we only weighed in one fish. We are going to get some pre-fishing practice time in and we definitely plan to be ready this time around.”
The top 15 teams that advanced to the Western Conference Championship tournament on Clear Lake are:
1st: Humboldt State University – Tristan Merlaud, Sebastopol, Calif., and Rudy Directo, Alpine, Calif. (five bass, 22-4, $2,000)
2nd: San Jose State University – Manuel Munoz, Hollister, Calif., and Patrick Friedman, Torrance, Calif. (five bass, 16-3, $1,000)
3rd: Sonoma State University – B.J. Kendrick, Morgan Hill, Calif., and Landon Moore, San Dimas, Calif. (five bass, 15-2, $500)
4th: University of Oregon – Jacob Wall, Jacksonville, Ore., and Dalton Taylor, Eugene, Ore. (five bass, 14-11, $500)
5th: Northern Arizona University – Jim Herrero and John Herrero, both of Kingman, Ariz. (five bass, 13-12, $500)
6th: California State University-Chico – Travis Bounds, Roseville, Calif., and Andrew Loberg, Rocklin, Calif. (five bass, 12-14)
7th: California State University-Chico – Kevin Chen and Koulton Westbrook, both of Vacaville, Calif. (five bass, 12-1)
8th: California State University-Chico – Frank Tomasello and Jakob Conlan, both of Morgan Hill, Calif. (five bass, 11-13)
9th: San Jose State University – Joey Fortina, Ben Lomond, Calif., and Adam McAndrews, Santa Clara, Calif. (five bass, 11-0)
10th: Oregon State University – Chase Cochran, Woodland, Calif., and Wyatt Whitten, San Jose, Calif. (five bass, 10-12)
11th: California Polytechnic State University – Clayton Lauchland, Lodi, Calif., and John Zeolla, Oak Park, Calif. (five bass, 10-5)
12th: California State University – Matthiew Grant, Bellflower, Calif., and Rick Zatarain, Long Beach, Calif. (five bass, 10-3)
13th: Sonoma State University – Brock Trudeau, Pinole, Calif., and Jake Davidson, Santa Rosa, Calif. (five bass, 8-14)
14th: Oregon State University – Zach MacDonald, Willits, Calif., and Zach Martinez, Linden, Calif. (five bass, 8-13)
15th: Sonoma State University – Jake Banuelos, Pinole, Calif., and Brent Nelson, Santa Rosa, Calif. (five bass, 8-2)
This FLW College Fishing Western Conference tournament was hosted by City of Oakley and was the second regular-season qualifying tournament. The next event for Western Conference anglers will be the Conference Championship, scheduled for Sept. 26-27 at Clear Lake in Lakeport, Calif., and is hosted by the Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five Conference Championship tournaments. The top ten teams from each of the five Conference Championship tournaments will advance to the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
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