Fishing fast puts Stephen F. Austin’s Aebi and Burns in the lead at Bassmaster College Series event on Douglas

The need for speed delivered the lead for Riley Aebi and Ben Burns of Stephen F. Austin University, who caught a limit of 17 pounds, 12 ounces to top the Day 1 standings for the Strike King Bassmaster College Series at Douglas Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Aebi and Burns hold a 1-pound margin over second-place Caleb Bomer and Reed Allen of Texas A&M University.

The leaders spent their day between the take-off site and the last bend before the dam. As Burns explained, the area seemed to set up well for the prespawn bass they were targeting.

“I’ve never been to Douglas Lake, but with the new water coming in up north, I just felt more confident that this area would be a little bit more stable,” Burns said. “We were catching fish in a foot to 10 feet.”

In classic prespawn activity, the fish were aggressively feeding, as evidenced by occasional displays of predation.

“Those fish were just feeding up, trying to get fat for the spawn,” Burns said. “It seemed like they were busting up on baitfish and pushing bait in different places."

Aebi said the game plan was simple — they fished fast and tried to visit as many spots as possible.

“For us, the key was covering water and trying to get in front of as many fish as we could,” he said.

Essential to this objective was a moving-bait strategy. The leaders did most of their work with crankbaits — a technique that fits squarely in Burns’ wheelhouse.

“I don’t fish very slow; I usually have the trolling motor on 8 and I’m going with a crankbait,” Burns said. “I try to put my lure in front of as many fish as possible. I can’t catch the hard ones, so I try to catch the easy ones.”

Aebi and Burns got off to a good start with a morning flurry, but they caught their better quality later in the day. As Burns pointed out, the higher sun angles better positioned their fish on structure, while warming water also stimulated increased activity.

“We caught them pretty fast and furious this morning, but we made a couple crucial culls with some of our bigger ones later this afternoon when the sun got high,” Burns said. “We had our limit by 9 a.m. but only two of those fish ended up in our limit.”

Aebi said that despite covering a large area on Day 1, he believes he and his partner have plenty of water to expand into for the final round.

Bomer and Allen are in second place with 16-12.

Caden Cardoza and Judd Morgan of the University of Tennessee are in third place with 16-7.

Colin Wolinski and Noah Lieberman of Missouri State University are in the lead for Big Bass honors with a 6-5.

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at Dandridge Boat Dock. The weigh-in will be held back at the dock at 3 p.m.

This event is being hosted by Visit Jefferson County, TN.