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Recent entries

McKendree Bass

McKendree Bass

The Cabela’s/Boat US - Bass Fishing Open

Sun, April 03, 2016

My name is Braden Watt.  I am a freshman on the McKendree Bass Fishing team, and the Cabela’s tournament on Dardanelle was only my third tournament with the team.  Fishing in these large college tournaments has been a great experience, and I have been blessed to be apart of an amazing team.

Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas was the second big stop for McKendree this spring. This tournament, like our last, is a bit different than your standard five fish tournament. The format for this tournament was a little tricky so I’ll do my best to describe it. In this tournament one boat consisting of two anglers was allowed to weigh in three fish, and each boat was paired with another boat from their school to make a team. That means as a team you could weigh in six fish between two boats. In order to succeed in this format it was important for both teams to bring fish to the weigh in.

Coming into this tournament I had a game plan of fishing shallow, covering water with spinnerbaits, swim-jigs, and shallow crankbaits looking for those pre-spawn fish that are cruising the banks fattening up for the spawn. However, after putting this pattern to the test on the first day of practice, it became apparent to me that it was already time for a change of strategy. On the second day my partner and I made a long run north to find dirty water and flipped cover most of the day. This seemed to pay off and we caught several good fish tight to cover in the dirty water.

Cool takeoffs are the norm in the early spring college tourneys.

The night before the tournament a cold front pushed through, and the temperature dropped significantly over night.  Even with the cold front, my partner and I decided that our best bet was to run north to where we had caught our fish in practice. When our number was called we began an 18 mile run up the lake to our spot. When we arrived at the spot, we were fishing laydowns and stumps just beating the bank looking to pick up our first keeper. My partner and I both started out throwing creature baits, and after about an hour of fishing we hadn’t had a bite. It seemed that the cold front the night before had been enough to push the bass off the bank into a little deeper water. We pulled up the trolling motor and ran into a part of the cove that we hadn’t fished the day before but had seen many boats come and go from the day before.

A little further back into the cove we stopped at a bridge that crossed over the cove and had a little current running under it. We decided to stop and fish the bridge thinking that the fish may have pulled off the bank and staged on the bridge waiting for the water to warm up again. This stop paid off and within ten minutes I had landed my first keeper in a college tournament!

We fished this spot until around 11 in the morning and caught several short fish off the bridge, but our spot was starting to get crowded as several other college anglers either pulled up to fish the same spot or idled over our spot to go under the bridge to fish further back into the cove. So we decided to go back to the mouth of the cove and fish those laydowns again hoping that the fish had moved back up as the day had warmed up. On about the second laydown my partner set the hook on our second keeper of the day. We continued this back and forth pattern the rest of the day and caught several short fish but just couldn’t get a third keeper in the boat. The boat we were paired with struggled to get bites as well the first day and only brought in one keeper.

Taylor and Brady bag their fish for weigh-in.

Austin N. and Brian, followed by Taylor and Brady, wait at the tanks to get called to the weigh-in stage.

The second day of the tournament we decided to stick with the original game plan, and headed north to our spot. However, on the second day another tournament had taken off from the north end of the lake. By the time we got to our spot not only were there several other college boats, but also several local boats that were in the local tournament. Even with our spot being so crowded we decided to stay and fish it, but after an hour of unsuccessful fishing on the bridge it was time for a move. We idled under the bridge and started fishing the rip-rap on the back side of it which had some laydowns on it. After just a few casts, my partner set the hook on a fish, but after a few cranks of his reel the fish came un-buttoned.  As frustrating as that was, we kept fishing.

Just a few yards down the bank I hooked up with a good fish, but I was met with similar luck.  After just a few cranks, the fish came off. We spent most of the rest of the second day fishing that technique with no luck.  In the last hour we made a run back to a spot a little south from where we took off, and about 20 minutes before we had to be back for the weigh in my partner caught our only keeper for the second day. The second day proved to be equally challenging for the boat we were partnered with, and they couldn’t find a keeper on the second day.

Even though I didn’t win any big prizes or catch the biggest fish, Dardanelle was a great tournament for the McKendree team as a whole.

The four-person team of Brock Wilke, Trenton Robinson, Shane Campbell and Phillip Germagliotti used a big day two to finish in 12th place overall. They entered day two with only 5.11 pounds in their bag, but weighed in 17.42 pounds on Saturday for their two-day total of 22.53.

Phillip and Shane with one of their 3-fish limits.

Brock and Trent during the weigh-in, that’s web-cast live by Cabelas.

The team of Taylor Schmitt, Brady Faust, Jacob Louis and JT Russell also used a big second day to finish in 17th place. They weighed in a bag at 6.46 pounds on Friday, but caught 14.43 pounds of bass on Saturday for 20.89 pounds over both days.

Taylor and Brady.

Jacob and JT.

For School of the Year points, they averaged each University’s two best teams’ finish, which put McKendree in fourth place overall for the tournament! Due to this amazing finish McKendree moved from 14th to 7th in national Cabelas School of the Year points race.

Our team’s next stop is the FLW open on Kentucky Lake on April 1 &2.  Schools from all over the country will be looking to secure a spot at the FLW National Championship.  With over 200 boats expected, this will be another great chance to move up in the coveted SOY race.


Pretty awesome stuff to see the popularity of college bass tournaments and high school for that matter, rising so much! I sure wish we had that in my high school/college years.

Posted by esox_lucius on April 04

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