(May 16, 2018 - Lakepoint, CA)
The University of California-Merced team of Herbie LeBlanc of Gilroy, California, and Tshu Xiong of Merced, California, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event at Clear Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops on Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 10 ounces. The victory earned the Bobcats bass club $2,250 and a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
“In our pre-fishing we had found that the water was very clear on the north end and a bunch of shad were up shallow, so we decided to start our tournament there,” said LeBlanc, a junior majoring in earth systems science. “When we got to our first spot, we realized that everything had been blown out from the wind. The lake went from 3-foot of visibility down to about 5 inches, so our pattern was toast.
“So, we decided to stay in the north end of the lake and look for areas that were secluded and weren’t affected by the wind,” LeBlanc continued. “We found a lagoon with a bunch of docks, and when we went in I got a bite in the first 30 feet of entering the area. We ended up staying there all day and fishing the whole thing.”
The duo estimated that they caught around 15 keepers and said that they caught their fish on two baits – LeBlanc fished a Texas-rigged Okeechobee Craw-colored Zoom Brush Hog, while Xiong fished a weightless Texas-rigged black and blue Yamamoto Senko.
“We flipped our baits into the tules and grass, and fishing slowly and methodically was very important,” said Xiong, a senior majoring in human biology who was fishing his very first College Fishing tournament. “The bite was a lot better in the morning, from 7 to 11 (a.m.)”
“I think the key was ignoring the bed fish and the southern end of the lake completely,” LeBlanc went on to say. “I could see the bed fish and I could just tell that all of those fish had been fished for and beat up, so we disregarded those fish completely. During practice we found that the bite was much better up north, so we spent our entire tournament there.”
The top 10 teams on Clear Lake that advanced to the 2019 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: University of California-Merced – Herbie LeBlanc, Gilroy, Calif., and Tshu Xiong, Merced, Calif., five bass, 19-10, $2,250
2nd: California State University-Chico – Cole Lauchland, Chico, Calif., and Logan Schwab, Davis, Calif., five bass, 16-12, $1,410
3rd: California State University-Chico – Chad Sweitzer, Chico, Calif., and Matthew Pusateri, Grand Terrace, Calif., five bass, 15-2, $710
4th: California State University-Chico – Carson Leber, Dixon, Calif., and Tyler Bounds, Chico, Calif., five bass, 14-10, $500
5th: California State University-Chico – Michael Klemm and Nick Klein, both of Oroville, Calif., five bass, 14-7, $500
6th: New Mexico State University – Ty Faulconer and Daylon Smith, both of Las Cruces, N.M., five bass, 12-14
7th: Sonoma State University – Trenton Wells, Windsor, Calif., and Brock Trudeau, Lancaster, Calif., five bass, 12-6
8th: California State University-Chico – Austin Crane and David Griswold, both of Oroville, Calif., five bass, 12-2
9th: Sonoma State University – Tyler Owens, Santa Rosa, Calif., and B.J. Kendrick, Morgan Hill, Calif., five bass, 11-13
10th: California Polytechnic State University – Hugh Cosculluela, The Woodlands, Texas, and Patrick Ellis, San Diego, Calif., five bass, 11-9
The YETI FLW College Fishing event at Clear Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops was hosted by the Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina, and was the second of three regular-season qualifying tournaments for Western Conference anglers in 2018. The next YETI event for FLW College Fishing anglers will be the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship. The event will take place May 30-June 1 on the Red River in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission & Red River Waterway Commission.
YETI FLW College Fishing teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top ten teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual FLW College Fishing Open will advance to the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship. Additional teams will qualify for the National Championship if the field size in regular-season events exceeds 100 boats.
YETI FLW 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 college fishing club that is recognized by their school.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.