Northwestern State University Leads College Series Wild Card
ARDMORE, Okla. —

John Ledet and Justin Cooper credited the last fish they caught on Thursday for putting them in the lead on the second day of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops.

“That big bass we caught clued us in on what to do today,” said Ledet.

The fish helped the Northwestern State University bass fishing team strategize to catch 17 pounds, 10 ounces of largemouth bass from Lake Murray. A cumulative weight of 33-6 puts the team from Natchitoches, La., ahead by the slim margin of less than 2 pounds.

Texas State University, buoyed by the heaviest catch of the tournament, moved into second place. Sam Stone and Evan Coleman caught 19-13, to add to the team’s overall weight of 31-14.

Zach Ziober and Dakota Ebare, the first-day leaders, dropped to third place with 30 pounds after landing only 12-6 today. The team is fishing for Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

Josh Bensema and Tyler Anderson, fishing for Texas A&M University, are fourth with 29-2. Aaron Belgard and Logan Laprarie, also of Northwestern State, are fifth with 28-11.

Ledet and Cooper moved from sixth place into the lead after Thursday. Like most of the top teams, they are fishing in shallow water early before the sun heats up the water. When that happens, the largemouth retreat to deeper water in the heat of the day.

“Today the shallow bite didn’t happen for us,” said Cooper.

At 11:30 a.m. the team only had two bass in the livewell. Then they recalled the payoff bass from Thursday.

“Timing is everything for what we are doing,” said Ledet. “The bass are moving between deep and shallow water, and being in the right place at the right time is the key.”

Lake Murray, at 5,700 acres, is small by comparison to most tournament lakes. It can handle the size of this field, even though mounting fishing pressure all week has the bass skittish. After recent heavy rains, the lake level is falling. Put the two together and tracing the movements of bass becomes a challenge.

Today the team focused on the deep bite after the shallow action failed to produce. Deep water, according to the team, is only about 10 feet deep.

Tomorrow will be different. The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, which will likely bring overcast skies. In bass fishing terms that means the topwater bite will likely be a factor early in the day.

Bass favor cloudy skies for added concealment when hunting for baitfish. Topwater lures imitate minnows and those factors should play a role tomorrow.

“We definitely hope that happens to get our shallow-water bite going,” said Cooper.

Bass fishing teams from more than 40 colleges and universities from throughout the nation came to compete. Tomorrow, the Top 20 teams will fish on Lake Murray.

Thirteen teams advance from this tournament to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. The tournament is July 28-30 in Campbellsville, Ky., on Green River Lake.

Several bonus awards are up for contention. Tournament leader Northwestern State University earned the Livingston Lures Leader Award worth $250 in merchandise from the lure company for leading on the second day .

The heaviest catch after three days gets the angler $250 from Bass Pro Shops for the Nitro Big Bag award. The angler catching the biggest bass in the tournament earns the Carhartt Big Bass award worth $500.

Tomorrow the weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m. CT at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant. Teams weigh on the same stage and venue in use for the GEICO Bassmaster BASSfest presented by Choctaw Casino and Resort.