Fishing & Boating News
“We only caught five keepers today,” said Enders, a biology major who was fighting a cold along with the 102-degree outside temperature at Thursday’s weigh-in. “We could zero tomorrow.”
“It’s being really stingy,” said Huff, a senior majoring in business management at the McKenzie, Tenn., school. “You really have to work.”
Their total gave them a lead of 12 ounces over Colby Bryant and Dillon Harrell. The team from Sam Houston State University placed second for the day with five bass that weighed 15-14.
A change from a final-day practice with overcast skies took the 136 teams in the contest out of the steam pot and onto a frying pan under bluebird skies in that 102-degree heat. An encore at 106 degrees is forecast for Friday, as the full field takes a second shot at making the Top 12 for Saturday’s finale.
Most teams said it was just tough, a grind or that fish were “just here and there.”
Only 88 of the teams weighed a fish, and Huff and Enders were the only ones to break the 16-pound mark. Twelfth place registered an even 10 pounds. Among that top echelon, three teams had only four bass and two teams had just three.
Huff and Enders caught their fish early, suspended off brushpiles, and they had their livewell filled at 9 a.m.
“We expected it to get better as the day went on, but it just stopped,” Huff said. “We were around a lot of people early, but you had to have the sweet spot.”
The tables turned in the afternoon and formed a knot in the stomachs of the leaders looking toward Friday.
“We watched a lot of other people catching fish, so that was tough,” Enders said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to start on what worked today and just see what happens.”
Bryant and Harrell had the opposite experience. They caught only one bass early and tried to force the issue with other shut-mouth fish before finally deciding to go junk fishing.
“We had a lot of rods out, we were tripping over them all day,” Harrell said.
“One of the things that helps us is we’re from Lake Conroe, and it’s junk fishing,” Bryant said. “It was junk fishing with a pan. It wasn’t just random stuff, but it definitely wasn’t our first plan.”
They had three fish at 12:30 p.m., caught one more after the noon hour and landed their final bass with seven minutes to go until check-in. “And it was a five-minute run,” Harrell said.
“Tomorrow, we’re just going to start over and see what happens,” Bryant said.
Another Bethel University team, Hunter Louden and Seth Roberts, is in third place with four bass that weighed 15-12 — a bag that included a 5-pounder.
Tenkiller’s 16-inch minimum played heavily into their showing. “We caught a largemouth that went 15 1/2,” Louden said. “That’s a pound a half right there.”
The contest continues Friday with takeoff at 6 a.m. CT from Cherokee Landing State Park. Weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at the Northeastern State University Beta Field in Tahlequah. Fans are encouraged to come early and enjoy the Bassmaster Outdoors Expo, featuring interactive sponsor displays and free giveaways from 1-5 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.
For more information, visit Bassmaster.com/college.
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