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College: Key Adjustment Gives Illinois State the Lead

College: Key Adjustment Gives Illinois State the Lead

Call them the comeback kids.

Illinois State’s Bryce Wegman and Taylor Umland weren’t happy with placing 28th on day one of the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship, so they sacked up the event’s biggest single-day weight and took over the two-day lead with 27 pounds, 9 ounces.

On a day that saw significant top-10 shuffling, Illinois State witnessed substantial variance from its opening round and practice, but the proper adjustments helped the team land 17-1 on day two. The tournament, which is presented by Insight Genesis College Cup and hosted by Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau, concludes on Saturday when the top 10 teams fish for the title and a spot in the Forrest Wood Cup fish-off, which is being dubbed the Battle of the Champions.

“We had to completely change what we did,” Wegman says. “We fished some new water today and found some big largemouths that had moved up shallow. We were actually sight-fishing yesterday, but they weren’t there [today]. We found some big ones in practice, but they weren’t there, so we just ended up running around and burning the trolling motor until we found five big ones.”

Targeting mostly prespawners, the leaders fared best with patient, plodding presentations. They kept bait details under wraps, for now.

“We were really slowing it down and working it off the bottom mostly during the morning hours,” Umland says. “Toward the end of the day when it started heating up, he [Wegman] decided to throw a reaction bait, and that produced a couple of fish.”

Today began with hazy cloud cover, which burned off by late morning. Sunny skies, temperatures in the low to mid-70s and light breezes made for comfortable fishing conditions.

Wegman and Umland stayed busy throughout most of the day.

“There was obviously a morning bite, and then they fired up again around 2 o’clock,” Wegman says. “We probably caught 20 keepers today. We were culling all day long. It was a lot of fun.”

They also found fish in a variety of scenarios, but pockets with off-colored water proved most productive amid Keowee’s overall high clarity.

“Being from Illinois, clear water for us is about 2 feet [of visibility], so coming out here and seeing 15 feet deep is a little scary,” Wegman adds. “But finding that murkier water today was key for us.”

The leaders started in Keowee’s lower end, but their day took them on a comprehensive tour.

“We were all over the place,” Wegman says. “You look at my Lowrance and you’ll see a lot of trails. I think we hit about every place out there. We’ve seen the entire lake. That’s burning up a lot of gas, but you have to find them.”

Umland says they might narrow down their site selection on day two. The key will be finding more fish that are ready to bite and hoping they left a few today.

With only a pound separating first and second place and 3-3 separating first from 10th, the leaders know they need to carry this momentum into day three. An approaching cold front is expected to lower temperatures and bring cloudy skies and possible rain for the final day of competition.

“I think we’ll be all right,” Wegman says. “Rain is always good for largemouths. The cold front is not going to be too bad, so it shouldn’t mess with us.”

 

Complete results

 

2nd Place: Auburn University – Timmy Ward and Mitchell Jennings – 26-8

Also making a big day-two move was the Auburn tiger team of Timmy Ward and Mitchell Jennings, who added 14 pounds, 5 ounces to a first-round weight of 12-3 and moved up from 11th to second with a total of 26-8. Ward and Jennings’ was a calculated game plan built on the premise of nabbing an early limit and then going on the hunt for upgrades.

“We were throwing Alabama Rigs until about 10 o’clock,” Ward says. “Then, once the sun got out and started establishing the warmth, we started running docks right near the takeoff. We picked up a few key spotted bass and a nice largemouth running the dock pattern. The A-rig produced mostly spots, but it produced one of our key largemouths both days.”

The Auburn anglers fished Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbaits on their rigs. The key presentation was a slow, steady retrieve that kept the rig in the strike zone of deep drop-off banks in about 38 feet.

“I came up here two times before the off-limits period and found the creek we fished today,” Ward says. “I ended up throwing the A-rig on two days and caught two good fish both days. I had a feeling those fish were going to be stacked in that creek. I knew we could go in there and at least catch a limit.”

On the docks, the Auburn anglers caught their fish on wacky-rigged soft stick baits.

“We’d just let it sink to the bottom real slowly,” Ward says. “It’s really painful, but hey, if it’s going to catch fish, we can slow down.”

 

3rd Place: Adrian College – Jarrett Martin and Jacob Bayer – 26-3

Gaining another notch from their fourth-place effort on day one, Jarrett Martin and Jacob Bayer moved Adrian College into third place with 26 pounds, 3 ounces. Their bite was off a little, but adding 11-10 to the 14-9 they caught on day one kept Martin and Bayer well within striking distance of the lead.

Returning to their day-one game plan, the Adrian College anglers started their day by throwing jerkbaits and spinnerbaits on main-lake points and humps.

“We had some clouds early, and that definitely helped,” Martin says. “We got our five there within the first hour and a half and culled twice. That got our heads on right, and we fished hard the entire day.”

Bayer says they focused on paying close attention to jerkbait cadence.

“You had to keep it moving at a good pace in that clear water,” he says. “We had plenty of fish follow the baits right up to the boat. Without twitching that bait through the water as fast as you can, you’re not going to catch fish.”

After the morning action, the bite slowed down, but Martin and Bayer spent the rest of their day looking for shallow targets. They picked off one decent bed bass that culled an earlier fish.

 

4th Place: Colorado Mesa University – Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade – 26-1

Taking an open-minded approach into day two paid off for Colorado Mesa’s Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade, who moved into fourth place with 26 pounds, 1 ounce.

“Our fish are in different stages of the spawn,” Worth says. “It’s really weird; we caught a prespawn female and a postspawn female yesterday in the same creek. We also saw some bass fry.”

Worth and Kinkade have located largemouth and spotted bass, and while they welcome hefty fish of either flavor, they put more effort into targeting the latter.

“The biggest thing for us is trying to get some of those bigger, quality spotted bass because it’s hard to get five of those big largemouths,” Worth says. “We have some areas where we can catch 3-pound spotted bass.”

Worth and Kinkade have found the hefty spots around shallow docks. Finesse baits have produced best.

 

5th Place: University of South Carolina – Chris Blanchette and Hampton Anderson – 25-11

Sacking up 13 pounds, 15 ounces on day two enabled Chris Blanchette and Hampton Anderson to pull the University of South Carolina up from 18th place to fifth with a total weight of 25-11. Blanchette says day two was a welcome change from the opening round.

“Yesterday, we had a huge round of bad luck,” he says. “We broke off a 5-pounder, and I hooked a 3 1/2-pounder under the gill [while sight-fishing], so we had to let it go. We had a lot of luckier things happen to us today, like finding a 3 1/2-pound spot right under the surface. We were able to see that fish and catch it.”

Anderson says he and his teammate got spun out on the bed-fishing game and decided to play it loose today. Making long casts with a mix of moving baits, they worked areas common to prespawners and picked off cruising fish. When they encountered attractive cover, they’d also flip Texas-rigged plastics.

 

The rest of the top 10

6. Zackery Hines & Reed Foster – Dallas Baptist University – 25-10 (10)                    

7. Lance Maldonado & Ethan Dhuyvetter – Kansas State University – 25-03 (10)     

8. Andrew Tate & Dawson Lenz – North Alabama – 25-02 (10)            

9. Cobey Wingfield & Michael Gross – Henderson State – 24-13 (10)              

10. Josh Bensema & Matthew McArdle – Texas A&M – 24-06 (10)

 

Important links

Details

Meet the contenders

Day 2 On-the-Water Photo Gallery

Day 1 Weigh-in Gallery

Day 1 On-the-Water Photo Gallery

Day 1 Headline Story - Dallas Baptist Leads College Championship

 

Tags: lake-keowee  flw-college-fishing  college-fishing  national-championship  bryce-wegman  taylor-umland  david-a-brown  headline-story  2016-03-17-lake-keowee 

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