Fishing & Boating News
Sam Stone and Evan Coleman of Texas State University took the Day 1 lead of the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops with an impressive 20 pounds, 13 ounces, despite the fact they were soaked the whole day.
“Everything was wet,” Stone said. “It was just pouring down rain.”
But the teammates made their peace with the weather after catching their limit of five bass before 10 a.m. on Thursday on Kentucky’s Green River Lake.
“A front rolled in at 9:30,” Coleman said. “Plus, we’d had a good morning bite. We felt really confident after that.” Stone and Coleman, who have been practicing on this lake all week, went into the first competition day with a plan but quickly abandoned it when they saw how hard it was raining.
Their newly formed game plan is a secret for now, said the Texas anglers, who are competing for a chance to win the championship trophy for their school. Plus, the best four teams from the championship advance to the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops, Aug. 4-6, on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee. The best angler in that head-to-head competition earns a berth in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro — which is in their home state of Texas.
Stone and Coleman had a great first day of practice, where they were catching quality bass. The following two days were rough; they didn’t catch anything at all.
“But then we heard that a three-day tournament was just won here with only three fish for 18 pounds,” Stone said. “That sealed it for us. We knew there were big bass here. We just had to go find them.”
Stone, who is a senior in engineering at Texas State, said he’s not sure if the pair can replicate their Day 1 catch on Friday. “I have no idea if we can do it again,” he said, “but it sure would be amazing.”
Coleman is laying the groundwork for a future career in fishing, and winning this championship would be a major stepping-stone.
“I plan on becoming a fishing guide after college,” Coleman said, “and I’ll be fishing the Opens for a chance to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.”
The Texas State team is looking forward to Friday, where they’re hoping to capitalize on their lead. But right behind them is Hunter Louden of Bethel University, who weighed in 20 pounds, 6 ounces Thursday.
“I was just blessed today,” said Louden. “I wasn’t really on anything, but I got the right five bites.”
Like the current leaders, Louden experienced a lot of his productive activity around that 9:30 a.m. mark, when the pressure changed with the front.
The rainy, cooler weather proved challenging for much of the field. Of the 89 teams competing, 14 of them posted zeroes. And although Texas State and Bethel had weights topping the 20-pound mark, only eight other teams are within striking distance. Every team from 11th place down weighed in less than 10 pounds.
“This lake can change drastically from one day to the next,” said Lance Freeman, a Kentucky angler who, along with his Murray State University partner Chandler Christian, is in 45th place after Day 1.
“I’ve practiced here a lot, and Green River really can be surprising from day to day,” he said.
Those words are giving some of the other competitors hope. Many are planning to overhaul their game plan overnight and try something completely new for Day 2. It’s critical to right the ship quickly; after the weigh-in on the second day, the 89 teams will be cut to only 12 teams to fish on Saturday, the final day.
“We have the best college anglers in the country here in this championship,” said Hank Weldon, manager of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. “They’ve been competing all year, and these are the best of more than 500 teams from 200-plus schools that were trying to get on this stage this week.”
Campbellsville University is hosting the tournament on its campus in Campbellsville, Ky.
“This is a great place and a great community,” said Weldon. “We couldn’t do this without the help of all the volunteers at Campbellsville.”
The championship trophy isn’t the only prize competitors are vying for. The team that leads at the end of Day 2 will win the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award worth $250. Stone and Coleman of Texas State are currently in the lead for the Bass Pro Shops Nitro Big Bag for $250, which will be awarded to the team that catches the biggest limit of the tournament. The Carhartt Big Bass Award for $500 will also be awarded at the end of the tournament to the team that brings in the heaviest bass.
After Thursday, Kyle Alsop and Taylor Bivins of Kansas State University are in the lead for that prize for the 6-pound, 13-ounce bass they weighed in.
"We hadn’t seen a fish of that quality all week,” Alsop said, “so that was definitely a surprise.”
The tournament resumes Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET when competitors take off from Green River Marina, located at 289 Lone Valley Road, in Campbellsville.
The weigh-ins will be held daily at 3:30 p.m. ET on Stapp Lawn on the Campbellsville University campus. A fan expo will open at 1 p.m. daily and continue through the weigh-in. All events are free and open to the public.
Weigh-ins will be streamed live at Bassmaster.com each day.
2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
Phone:903-882-8877 or 903-882-8878 — Fax: 972-619-8776