UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Northwestern vaults into lead on Kinkaid Lake

Northwestern vaults into lead on Kinkaid Lake
The Northwestern University team of Jimmy Morrow (left) and Matthew Kestufskie finished the second day of central regional competition in first place overall with a total catch of 12 pounds, 14 ounces.

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Once again, it was another difficult day on the water for FLW College Fishing Central Regional anglers. With only 12 teams recording a catch of any sort, and only two teams bringing more than two fish total to the scales, it was clear that most anglers have yet to solve the mysteries of Kinkaid Lake.

However, a few teams were able to produce some decent weights when it mattered most. And heading that list was the team from Northwestern University, comprised of Jimmy Morrow and Matthew Kestufskie. Together they turned in the largest stringer to date, a relatively sizable 8-pound, 7-ounce limit, which gave them a two-day total of 12 pounds, 14 ounces as well as the overall lead heading into Saturday's final day of competition.

"Finishing in first place is a lot better than (yesterday's fifth-place finish)," said Kestufskie. "It was tough out there today and we're happy with what we accomplished, but no lead is safe."

Although the team didn't want to specifically divulge their bait and tackle of choice, they did say that they abandoned much of their prime practice spots for a different location today. And clearly, that made a huge difference.

"We're using two main baits - one to search for fish and one we use to slow down (our presentation)," said Morrow. `We're basically fishing one big area with lots of smaller, productive spots within that area. The area has a combination of grass, rock and other (cover) and that's what's so great about it."

"The other good thing about that spot is that the fish seem to be replenishing each day," said Kestufskie. "We can go there for a few hours, leave, come back and still catch them. And hopefully we'll be able to get them to bit again tomorrow. But during the finals, we're not going to leave that area. We're going to stay and fish that spot all day. It's going to be a grind. But we have a lot of confidence right now."

While the Northwestern team was obviously happy to be in the overall lead with only one more day of competition remaining, both Morrow and Kestufskie agreed that receiving one of the five automatic qualifying berths into the 2012 FLW College Fishing National Championship was truly one of the main tournament highlights so far.

"To qualify for the national championship is awesome," said Morrow. "We're just happy to have made it this far. We really wanted to qualify for that championship, so everything else going forward is just a bonus."

UW Stevens Point drops into second

Although they failed to hold onto the overall lead during the second day of competition, the duo of Ted Johnson and Jody Derks from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, said they had few complaints with the way the tournament is shaping up so far. Bolstered by a two-day catch of 10 pounds, 6 ounces, UW Stevens Point finds itself less than 2 pounds behind the frontrunners. In addition, like the other top five teams who survived today's cut, Johnson and Derks will be going to the national championship.

"To be honest, the pressure is really off of us right now," said Johnson. "To get into the top five and qualify for the national championship, that's something we've never done. It's something our school has never done. So it feels pretty good. This is just a great accomplishment for us and our school."

Bolstered by a strong catch (8 pounds, 4 ounces) in yesterday's competition, despite having only a few hours of practice time, the Stevens Point team could have stayed in bed today and still qualified for the finals. But while they struggled just like most in the field, it was a crucial final few minutes of today's competition which could ultimately prove to be the difference between finishing in the top five and hoisting the trophy come tomorrow.

"Man oh man, it was tough out there today," said Johnson. "We caught 14-inch fish after 14-inch fish. We really had trouble catching any (legal 16-inch minimum fish). So we're sweating it all day long. And with time running out, we didn't have any fish in the boat. But then, with three minutes left, just as we're getting ready to come in, I made one last cast and hooked a fish."

"By about 1:30 p.m. I was pretty down," said Derks. "But with a few minutes left, Ted makes one last cast and lands a fish. I couldn't believe it. We're so happy."

That one fish pushed Stevens Point within real striking distance of the leaders.

"It's still going to be a tough out there tomorrow," said Johnson. "We want to win this tournament. But if (Northwestern) catches two fish, that means we're going to have to catch three. And if they catch three, we're going to have to catch four. So, it's definitely not going to be easy."

"I'd just settle for catching one fish," Derks joked. "Then we'll see what happens."

SIU nails down top-three qualifying position

Using a total, two-day catch of 7 pounds, 10 ounces, Justin Skinner and Brad Lemasters of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, managed to book a trip to the finals as well as automatic berth in the national championship. And they couldn't have been happier.

"Most people think that this is our home lake but we live two hours away and we've only fished this lake four times before this tournament," said Lemasters. "This is only our first year of fishing so it's pretty unbelievable to qualify for the national championship. Just being onstage with this group of guys is unbelievable. Right now, there's really no pressure on us. We're in third place now and we're going to swing for the fences tomorrow. It's either go big or go home."

Like the Stevens Point team, SIU teammates argued that they were happy just to put one fish in the boat today.

"It was a rough day out there," said Skinner. "We didn't get our first keeper in the boat until 10:30 a.m. and that's all we got. So it was some pretty tough fishing out there."

"it's funny," said Lemasters. "We weren't having any luck and then Justin says to me that he thought we needed to change things up to change our mojo. He said, `Put your wallet from your left pocket into your right pocket. And now put your hat on backwards.'" So I did it. And right away I caught that fish."

Although the SIU team is more than 5 pounds behind the leaders, the team believes it still has a legitimate shot at raising the trophy.

"We know where some really good fish are. We can see them," said Skinner. "And if you can get the right fish to bite, you can bring in 20 pounds. So we still have a chance."

Solo Kansas State University angler nets fourth

Kansas State University team member Ryan Patterson qualified for the finals in fourth-place, despite having to fish solo during the FLW College Fishing regional on Kinkaid Lake.With his brother and long-time fishing partner unable to attend the regional championship, Ryan Patterson clearly had his work cut out for him this week as he was forced to fish the entire event by himself. With one less line in the water at all times, Patterson was clearly at a distinct disadvantage. While his situation wasn't unique, as a few college anglers had been in similar positions over the years, none of them had ever advanced. That was, until today.

Using a two-day catch of 6 pounds, 13 ounces, Patterson defied the odds, grabbed fourth place overall and qualified both he and his brother, Brandon, for the 2012 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

"I just put my head down and fished as hard as I could today," said Patterson. "I'm just glad it worked out. I definitely owe my brother a lot of credit. I called him a bunch of times this week and he really calmed me down. My brother and I fish all the time together and there's nobody I'd rather be fishing with. So, going into this week, all I wanted to do was qualify for the national championship. And I was able to pull it off. It feels pretty good."

With a national championship berth under his belt, Patterson said he's going to do everything he can to turn in the best showing possible in the finals and make a run at the tournament title.

"Tomorrow, I'm really going to swing for the fences," said Patterson. "I'm going to cut off all of my baits and just tie on one lure tomorrow. And if I catch anything on it, it's going to be a big one. We'll just have to see what happens. But no matter how it turns out, it will have been a great experience."

Indiana University claims last qualifying position

The Indiana University team of Dustin Vaal and Steven Bressler parlayed a 5-pound, 12-ounce catch into the fifth and final qualifying position. However, all of the teams in the finals, few seemed to have a harder road than Indiana.

For starters, the team was docked a 2-pound penalty for coming back two minutes late to the marina in yesterday's competition. And today, the team lost a huge fish at the boat which almost certainly would have put them within striking distance of the leaders.

"The fishing has been tough for us all week," said Vaal. "I lost another 4-pounder today and we had a 2-pound penalty yesterday. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong."

But in the end, the team squeaked by Eastern Kentucky by a mere 3 ounces to grab the final qualifying position and punch their ticket to the national championship.

To see a complete list of today's results, click here.

Central College Regional Championship action continues during Saturday morning takeoff, slated to take place at 7 a.m. at Kinkaid Lake Marina, located at 2063 Marina Road in Murphysboro, Ill.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2011-10-06-central-regional-lake-kinkaid 

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