My name is Shane Campbell. I have just finished my sophomore year at McKendree, this being my second year on the team. What an experience it has been with great teammates and an exceptional coach by our side!
The Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship held May 26th-27th is one of the largest tournaments McKendree fishes during the season with a field of 169 teams competing. McKendree was able to take three teams to the tournament, the max number allowed per Cabela’s. With this being a two day tournament, teams would have to bring in a limit of five good bass each day. Since this is a Cabela’s sponsored event, it was worth double points in the School of the Year race. The double points are scored based on the school’s TWO highest placing teams, meaning there was some extra pressure for two of our teams to finish high up on the leader board.
Just one week prior to the tournament McKendree was sitting at the number one spot in the School of the Year race. Due to a 167 boat FLW Southeastern Regional, which McKendree was not allowed to fish because it was out of our region, we dropped to sixth place just days before arriving at the championship. So, we knew we had to do well at this tourney to remain in contention for at least a top five year-end finish.
With this being one of the largest tournaments in the college fishing world, Cabela’s lays out the red carpet for all of the competitors. They kick off the week with Yamaha’s Angler Appreciation Night. This night is a great way to meet some of the other anglers, win great prizes, and engage in some friendly competition.
The casting contest put on during angler appreciation night pits each individual angler against the rest of the 300+ anglers. The preliminary round involves all anglers and the 10 anglers with the best score move on to the championship round. The angler’s goal is to score the fewest points on the course (similar to golf). The course consisted of three corn hole-like targets placed at various distances. Competitors are given two times through the course in the first round, attempting to get inside the top ten cut. My first time through was pretty rough, and well outside of the top ten.
Second time through went much better, landing me in 6th going into the Championship round. Meanwhile, my teammate, Reece Ellerbusch, was tied for tenth after the second round. He had to complete a cast off with 5 other anglers for the tenth spot. (He won this cast off as well as a jackpot of prizes for completing the most difficult hole on the course in the fewest tries with a spinning reel.) Once in the top ten cut, the slates are wiped clean in the final round and each of the top ten has five casts on each of the two targets, with the lowest possible score being two.
With some very respectable scores being put up by the competitors in front of me, I knew I had to perform. I sunk the first one and on my third try at the second target I sunk it again, putting up the best score! For winning the competition I received some great prizes from Cabela’s, Yamaha, and Abu Garcia. Reece placed seventh overall and also won some more great prizes.
Reece Ellerbusch takes 7th in the casting competition.
Shane Campbell in his winning form as he earns the title of “best caster in the country” at the Yamaha Night flipping contest.
Shane talks with Wade Middleton of Careco TV after winning the casting championship.
On to the fishing, with Pickwick typically being won this time of year on deeper structure such as offshore ledges, many on our team committed to trying to figure out that bite in practice. Being from Illinois, many of us have not had a ton of practice with that style of fishing, and there is quite a steep learning curve. Throwing massive baits like the 8” magnum flutter spoon and Strike King 10xd was a new experience for me. While my fishing partner Phillip and I couldn’t get them on those baits, we had figured out how to catch a few on more typical baits for us like shaky heads, jigs, and deep cranks.
Our great support group holding up signs and ringing cow bells at take-off.
Boats being “staged” and ready for takeoff on tournament morning.
Some of our other guys had found a shallower bite that was holding up for them. Each team brought in a limit both days with the duo of Reece Ellerbusch and Austin Chapman finishing 38th and Phillip and I finishing 51st.
Austin Chapman and Reece Ellerbusch with some nice Pickwick bass that earned them 38th place in the 169 boat field.
The team of Brock Wilke and Austin Niggli finished 75th, a respectable finish considering what happened to them on their first practice day. While trailering to another ramp a massive tree limb fell, for no apparent reason, and smashed into their truck, busted the windshield, tore off the tailgate, and destroyed their trolling motor. Miraculously, they emerged unhurt! Brock and Coach, along with the Ranger Boats support staff member James Johnson, repaired the damages to the boat so they could fish the tourney. Brock’s truck also had to go to the collision repair center for some repairs so he would be able to pull his boat home.
Just part of Brock’s problems after a large tree fell on his truck and boat while he was driving to the ramp.
You know things aren’t going well when you see this sign. Thanks so much to the great folks at Simpson’s for getting us back on the road in less than 24 hours.
Coach and Brock taking off the destroyed trolling motor.
What a welcome site. James Johnson and the Ranger support trailer were at the National Championship to help all of the anglers with their problems. James completely installed Bock’s new motor (since his was completely destroyed when the tree fell on his truck and boat) and made many necessary repairs to his busted up boat.
James Johnson from Ranger Boats helping to install a new motor on Brock’s boat.
All in all, it was a very exciting week! As a team, McKendree finished 18th of the 70 universities invited to the event. This marks the Bearcats’ highest finish at the tournament. With this finish, we were able to maintain our 6th Place in the SOY race standings.
Coach trying to block all of the wind while making calls to locate needed boat parts….or was he really just taking a nap?
The Bearcats’ “Top 6” of 2016 at the tent after weigh in.
Next, we’ll be traveling to our Bassmaster Carhartt Midwestern Regional on Clinton Lake. My teammate Derrik Starrett will be reporting on that very shortly. Thanks for following our team blog, and until next time, good fishing!