Northeastern State University Leads Bassmaster College Series Regional
LAKEPORT, Calif. —

Some days the game plan goes better than expected, and that sums up the day of Caleb Gibson and Tyler Winn, students at Northeastern State University who are leading the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Tour presented by Bass Pro Shops.

“We lucked up on a school of big bass early in the day and that made it even better,” said Gibson, who is enrolled with his fishing partner at the university in Tahlequah, Okla.

The team brought in five bass weighing 21 pounds, 15 ounces, including a big bass weighing 6-9.

Gibson and Winn declined to elaborate on their exact game plan, although they made it clear that sunny conditions improved the fishing as morning gave way to afternoon.

“We plan to do the same thing tomorrow, and timing has a lot to do with it,” added Winn. “Being in the right place at the right time made a difference.”

The tournament is setting up to be a prespawn affair. At Clear Lake, currently ranked third in the nation on Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes, largemouth are showing signs of migrating into the shallows to spawn. That could explain much of the success — and heavy weights — enjoyed by the top anglers.

Tyler Craig and Spencer Lambert, fishing for the University of Louisiana at Monroe, hold down second place with 20-5. Joey Price and Bobby Fralix of Clemson University are third with 18-1. Fishing for the University of Idaho are Jon Hickey and Austin Turpin, with 17-3 for fourth place. Carson Leber and Tyler Bounds of Chico State University are fifth with 17-1.

“We expected to catch about 12 pounds and got lucky to catch a couple that pushed us way over the top,” said Craig. “What really helped was the wind; we need more of it on Thursday.”

The good news for the first- and second-place teams is that wind and sun are in the forecast for Thursday.

Clemson is leveraging the strength of Price’s knowledge of Clear Lake. He is a California native attending the school located in South Carolina. After boating a largemouth weighing 5-1 and several more in the 3-pound range, the anglers switched strategies, even with luck on their side.

“I knew that if we are going to win this tournament, it will take fishing for the big bass this lake is known to have in it,” explained Price.

Another heated battle is brewing for Team of the Year. So coveted is this new award that some teams traveled cross-country for a final shot at winning. Craig and Lambert drove 34 hours nonstop to northern California for the tournament.

Before today they led the standings with 1,407.06 points, and had a 35-point lead over the third-place team of Dillon Harrell and Colby Bryant. The Sam Houston State University students are currently 10th overall in the tournament.

“We want to be the first team to win this new title, so that alone made the drive out here worth it,” said Lambert.

Collegiate teams representing 24 colleges with anglers from 13 states are competing on Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California.

The big day for the event is Friday when the overall team winner is declared along with these bonus awards. The Bass Pro Shops Nitro Big Bag of the tournament goes to the team weighing the heaviest single-day catch. The team earns a Bass Pro Shops gift card valued at $250. The Carhartt Big Bass Award worth a $500 gift card goes to the angler catching the biggest bass of the tournament.

This is the fourth and final collegiate regional tournament of the season. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Louisiana; Cherokee Lake, Tennessee; and Pickwick Lake in Alabama were the previous tournament sites. Those events advanced top finishers to the 2018 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. The tournament is July 19-21, on Lake Tenkiller near Tahlequah, Okla. Top teams from the Western Regional also advance to the championship.

Teams depart Konocti Vista Resort Marina at 6 a.m. (PDT) and return to the same location for the weigh-in at 2 p.m.