Northeastern State University Wins Bassmaster College Event At Clear Lake
LAKEPORT, Calif. —

Caleb Gibson and Tyler Winn tapped into a bass fishing strategy now in play in their native Oklahoma to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Tour presented by Bass Pro Shops at Clear Lake, California.

“Before coming here the word was all about sight fishing for the 10 pounders and throwing big swimbaits along the shoreline,” said Gibson. “We had never even heard of some of the best baits to use.”

The anglers from Northeastern State University stocked up on local lures, launched their boat after the 30-hour drive and went fishing with high hopes. All it took was one practice day for reality to sink in. The bass were small and stubborn to bite.

“There was no way that we were going to spend an hour or more on trying to catch the same bedding fish,” said Gibson, 18, a freshman majoring in marketing. “That, and the shorelines were getting hammered by other contestants and had been for several weeks.”

Reverting back to prevailing postspawn fishing patterns in Oklahoma paid off with the win. After three days, the Clear Lake newbies racked up 57 pounds, 6 ounces to win the title over a field dominated by western schools.

Tyler Craig and Spencer Lambert, fishing for the University of Louisiana at Monroe, also new to Clear Lake, took second with 56-14. The Chico State team of Carson Leber and Tyler Bounds earned third with 55-11. Joey Price and Bobby Fralix of Clemson University were fourth with 48-9, and the 48-7 caught by Nick Klein and Mike Klemm of Chico State scored them fifth place.

All the anglers, winners included, wanted to catch the famed trophy lake’s double-digit largemouth along the shorelines. That occurs when the bass spawn in the shallowest water in the lake. Reality was, the tournament occurred as the spawn ended. The largemouth were beginning to migrate back out to deeper water. While some refused to accept that reality, Gibson and Winn embraced it.

“Back home the water temperature is about the same as here, and our bass are postpspawn,” explained Winn, 21, also a marketing major. “It just made sense for us to leave the pressured shoreline and find bass in transition.”

Gibson and Winn abandoned the bank, backed off and found a textbook postspawn rest stop used by the migrating bass. They got the last laugh, even using the lures whose names they’d never heard of until now.

The anglers chose a 1/4-ounce jighead to make a shaky head rig. A 6-inch Roboworm Straight Tail Worm, margarita mutilator pattern, completed the rig. Best bites came between 5- to 10-feet of water. Boulders were a key draw for the bass.

“Between two main points was a deep water saddle where the bass could get down in deeper water for the summer,” explained Winn. “They related to the deeper water and the boulders.”

University of Louisiana at Monroe made a run at the tournament title from the beginning. Craig and Lambert caught limits weighing 20-5, 14-9 and 22 pounds. Coincidentally, like the winners, they found the best success also targeting postspawn largemouth.

The team focused on isolated aquatic grass growing between 8- and 10-feet of water. A 5-inch Yamamoto Senko rigged Texas style with a 1/16-ounce weight and 1/0 hook did the trick.

“People were passing us by to get to the shoreline,” said Craig. “We backed off, didn’t have a single boat fishing in our area.”

Chico State began fishing for bedding bass, and then backed off the shoreline on the final day. The dead-sticking technique with a wacky rigged Senko worked best on the first two days. On Friday, a Spro Mike McClelland McStick jerkbait produced catches of postspawn bass in deeper water.

The Northeastern State University bass fishing team received $1,000 for winning. University of Louisiana at Monroe received $500 as runner-up, and Chico State’s team earned $250 for third place. Top teams also received Abu Garcia rods and reels.

Teams from Chico State also earned these bonus awards. Chico State won the Nitro Big Bag of the tournament by catching the heaviest single-day weight. The limit weighing 24-9 caught on Friday by Klein and Mike Klemm earned them a Bass Pro Shops gift card valued at $250.

Another Chico State team earned the Carhartt Big Bass Award worth a $500 gift card. Chad Sweitzer and Matthew Featherston of Chico State weighed an 8-3 largemouth, the biggest of the tournament.

This was the fourth and final collegiate regional tournament of the season. Top anglers advance 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. Advancing from this tournament are Gibson and Winn of Northeastern State University, and Carson Leber and Tyler Bounds of Chico State.