Tarleton State University Leads College Wild Card Event
ARDMORE, Okla. —

Shallow and deep. That’s how the largemouth and smallmouth bass are getting caught at Lake Murray, a 5,700-acre impoundment in southern Oklahoma.

Zach Ziober and Dakota Ebare teamed up to catch the heaviest limit, weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces, Thursday during the Carhartt College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Ziober and Ebare are fishing for the Tarleton State University bass club. The anglers from Stephenville, Texas, are among the 80 collegiate teams representing more than 40 colleges and universities in the tournament.

Just 10 ounces behind is Itawamba Community College with 17 pounds. Louisiana State University-Shreveport and Bethel University are tied for third place with 16 pounds, 1 ounce. The University of South Carolina is fifth with 15 pounds, 15 ounces.

Ziober and Ebare are finding the most success early in shallow water, and then moving deep.

“The day went about like we planned,” said Ebare. “We took it easy on some of our areas to save them for tomorrow and the next day.”

Friday, the goal is to land in the Top 20. Those teams advance to the championship round on Saturday.

“We aren’t getting our better bites until later in the day,” added Ziober.

Ziober and Ebare hope to repeat their catch today with fewer mistakes.

“We jumped some really good ones off at the boat,” said Ebare. “We have a few ideas on how to improve and will try a few things different.”

Ty Cox and Jake Houston, fishing for Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss., are fishing both ends of the water column.

“We are flipping jigs in shallow water, early, and then moving out deep to fish for the smallmouth,” said Cox.

So it goes with the remainder of the teams. The early bite is best when the bass move into shallow water to feed. As the sun heats the water, those bass move to deeper water. The smallmouth thrive in deep water and are more dependable and easier to pinpoint during midday.

The Wild Card format is a bonus opportunity for advancing 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.

Most of the national championship teams have already advanced through five conference championships. The Wild Card is the final chance to qualify for this season of the collegiate series.

Several bonus awards are up for contention. The heaviest catch after three days awards the angler $250 from Bass Pro Shops for the Nitro Big Bag award. Tomorrow’s leader receives $250 in lure merchandise for the Livingston Lures Leader Award. The angler catching the biggest bass in the tournament earns the Carhartt Big Bass Award worth $500.

Tomorrow the weigh-in begins at 2 p.m. CT at Lake Murray State Park, North Ramp. Saturday the championship weigh-in will be held on the GEICO Bassmaster BASSfest stage at 4 p.m. at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant.