November 9, 2009 by Brett Carlson
DAVIDSON, N.C. - On day one of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Northern Regional Championship, the North Carolina State team of Kevin Beverley and Ben Dziwulski caught four keeper bass. On day two they improved to five fish and, after the weigh-in, promised they would come in with a six-bass limit Monday. Promise delivered.
After two days of nary a cloud in the sky, day three on Lake Norman saw overcast conditions. This severely hurt the dock bite as the bass had little shade to relate to. Beverley and Dziwulski purposely stayed away from the docks for that reason - they were too inconsistent.
Instead they found three spots - a shoal in Davidson Creek, a rock quarry in Knox Creek and a concrete pier. All three of these spots were within shouting distance of each other.
"Going into this tournament, I knew I didn't want to fish docks," said Dziwulski, a freshman business major. "I wanted to find something different, and I didn't want to run around all day. Having three spots close was key."
Dziwulski and Beverley's go-to presentation was the drop-shot. They fished it with a Yamamoto Shad Shape worm, a Strike King 4-inch finesse worm and a Zoom Super Fluke Jr. Their most productive bait was the Shad Shape worm, which they termed "Gary" in an effort to keep it a secret from their fellow competitors.
At the shoal they fished in 50 feet of water. The spotted bass in the area were following shad on the bottom. During the day, the bass would drive the shad all the way to the lake's surface.
"Eventually the spots would push the bait all the way to the top, and they'd start schooling. When that happened, we would pull out a Lucky Craft Sammy and a Reaction Innovations Vixen. I think the Vixen caught our biggest fish of the day, but that was the only one we got on top."
At the rock quarry, they worked the edge where it dropped straight down from 20 feet to 50 feet. They would pitch their drop-shot and slowly drag it toward the edge. To get a bite, the bait had to be exactly positioned where the drop-off started.
"We spent probably 50 hours of practice studying this quarry," added Dziwulski. "We could see the bait, so we knew they were there. We just had to find a way to catch them."
The concrete pier wasn't a solid pattern like the other two. It was a gut decision made by Beverley, a sophomore who studies civil engineering.
"Kevin chose to stop at this concrete pier," Dziwulski explained. "We hadn't really fished it before, but we caught two keepers off it. Kevin just stepped up and made the right decisions. We came into today knowing we had to absolutely catch them, and Kevin made all the right calls. I am, like, absolutely blown away."
Dziwulski and Beverley weighed four spotted bass and two largemouths Monday. Those were the only six keepers they caught, and they weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Combined with 6-2 and 9-2, they finished with a three-day total weight of 24 pounds, 10 ounces. For winning the Northern Regional Championship, the Wolfpack earned a $25,000 check for their school as well as a new Ranger boat for the club.
"We wanted this to happen so bad," said Beverley. "Now that it actually did, I am just speechless."
Furthermore, Dziwulski and Beverley have already made spring break plans for March 2010. They will be in Knoxville, Tenn., practicing for the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship, taking place April 10-12.
Virginia Tech's Machek and Wiley retain second
Virginia Tech anglers Charlie Machek and Scott Wiley were 3 pounds off the lead this morning. Ahead of them was their fellow Virginia Tech teammates Andrew Blevins and Carson Rejzer. At a minimum, they figured one of the two Hokie teams would take home the title. But it wasn't meant to be. While Dziwulski and Beverley dragged out deep, Machek and Wiley struggled in the mid-depth range.
They finished the event second with a total weight of 22-11. Their day-three stringer consisted of five bass weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces.
"It was an exciting day," said Machek, a senior in building construction. "We caught our first two fish with a Lucky Craft Sammy on our first two casts. That got the day started off on the right foot."
From there, Machek and Wiley resorted to the tried and true shaky head.
"That bait catches fish all year long on Lake Norman," Wiley added.
Much of the team's success can be credited to Machek, who practiced for seven consecutive days from sunup to sundown. That practice paid off to the tune of $12,500 for the school and $12,500 for the bass club.
"We are just so excited to be here, and to know that we are going to be in the National Championship is just awesome."
If they win in Knoxville next spring, it will be their second national championship. In 2007, the Hokies won the Under Armour College Bass National Championship. Earlier this year they also won the National Guard FLW College Fishing qualifier on Lake Gaston.
Hampden-Sydney spoons for third
Hampden-Sydney College anglers Charles Parrish and Allen Luck had quite the final day on Lake Norman. The teammates caught a limit weighing 8 pounds, 9 ounces to rise from fifth to third.
"I think we caught 29 bass today; we were on them pretty thick," said Parrish. "We had two windows where they bit really well - right away in the morning and then again with about an hour left."
Parrish and Luck found a creek on the southeast part of the lake that was full of shad. In practice they were getting consistent strikes on crankbaits. But once the tournament started, that pattern died.
"On days two and three we switched to a 1-ounce Hopkins spoon," Parrish added. "We were fishing it in like 25 to 30 feet of water and just yanking them right up. Had we figured it out earlier, we could have made a serious run."
Parrish and Luck finished with a three-day total of 21 pounds, 10 ounces, despite only weighing 2-14 Saturday. They earned $5,500 for their school and $5,500 for their club.
Day-two leaders fall to fourth
Virginia Tech teammates Rejzer and Blevins struggled all day with the cloudy weather. Targeting docks with drop-shots and Roboworms, the day-two leaders managed only two bass weighing 2 pounds, 14 ounces. Each of the first two days, Rejzer and Blevins caught six-bass limits.
"The clouds killed us," said Blevins, the president of the Virginia Tech bass club. "Most of our fish were right under the docks and on the poles."
In addition to the unfavorable weather, Rejzer and Blevins had a mix-up with their observer that cost them 45 valuable minutes of fishing time.
"That was frustrating, because that first hour was the sunniest part of the day. Once we got frustrated, we never really were able to get focused and turn our day around."
Rejzer and Blevins fished two different areas - the northwest side of the lake and a midlake area by Mountain Creek and Beaver Creek. They finished the tournament with a total of 14 bass weighing 21 pounds, 3 ounces.
Fairmont State fifth
Fairmont State University anglers Brent Dodrill and Wil Dieffenbauch had a disappointing third and final day, catching only three bass weighing 4 pounds, 2 ounces. They finished the tournament in fifth with 18 pounds, 6 ounces.
"It's been an awesome, awesome experience," said Dodrill, a sophomore majoring in occupational safety. "We lost some fish today, two real good fish that could have made a difference."
Fairmont State shared the lead after day one with Virginia Tech's Machek and Wiley. Their second day was slow until the last hour when they rallied and caught three keepers in the final hour to make the finals. Dieffenbauch, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, said they caught their bass both shallow and deep.