Northern Arizona Takes Early Lead In Bassmaster College Tournament

Gunnar Stanton and Gunner Campbell of the Northern Arizona University bass fishing team claimed a hefty first-round lead over their nearest rivals Saturday in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Regional on Lake Mead.

Stanton and Campbell boated five bass weighing 15 pounds, 15 ounces, easily outfishing Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade of Colorado Mesa University.

Familiarity with Lake Mead fishing helped the Northern Arizona team excel during an otherwise difficult day on the Nevada fishery. Despite stiff competition from competitors in large tournament being held at the same time on Lake Mead, Stanton and Campbell kept to their gameplan. The duo takes a 3-pound, 5-ounce lead into Sunday’s competition day.

“I think it’s only going to get better from here,” Stanton said. “The water is warming up. We didn’t see many bed fish throughout practice, but towards the end of the day we started seeing more on beds.”

Although sight fishing for spawning bass may be a factor for the team Sunday, they didn’t plan to do it Saturday, until the wind calmed late in the day. One of their biggest bass from Saturday was caught from a spawning bed. 

“We aren’t really going bed fishing on purpose,” Stanton said. “If we stumble across them, then we will fish for them, but basically any fish we catch in the morning is a bonus fish.”

Stanton and Campbell relied on their normal, non-bed-fishing pattern to bring a 4-pound, 6-ounce largemouth to claim big bass of the day.

Worth and Kinkade from Colorado Mesa had their worst day of the week, but still managed to weigh 12-10 to claim second place.

“In pre-fishing, we didn’t hook many fish, but we got a lot of bites,” Worth said. “With the local pressure we are certainly happy to have over 12 pounds.”

This tournament may be on the verge of a breakout based on the optimism of almost every team in the field. With a full day of sunshine and a similar projected forecast over the next two days, the big fish seem to be headed to shallower water. Worth and Kinkade are sitting in a good position, but their biggest stumbling block is figuring out if Saturday’s fishing was tougher due to the added pressure of another big tournament on Lake Mead or if it was the added sunshine and lighter wind.

“When there is a little more wind we feel a lot more confident in our baits,” Kinkade said. “We will watch the conditions and see what changes we may need to make based on the weather.”

Jacob Wall of the University of Oregon, who is fishing solo in the team tournament, suffered engine problems at takeoff but overcame the adversity to catch 12-6 and put himself in contention. He will head out solo once again as he hopes to get his engine repaired by morning.

Takeoff for Sunday and Monday will be Callville Bay Marina at 6:15 a.m. PT. Weigh-ins will also be at Callville Bay at approximately 2:30 p.m. PT.