GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – After one day of fishing on Lake Guntersville, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series weight records were in jeopardy. By the end of the weigh-in Saturday, they were destroyed.
First, Evan Smith netted a college record 9-pound Guntersville giant to claim Carhartt Big Bass. Then, Dewey Swims and Cody Ross from Bethel University stole the show and ignited a celebration, when they scored a two-day record of 48 pounds, 11 ounces to win the South Super Regional.
“It felt great man,” Ross said, still visibly shook up. “It felt real good to be honest with you. I don’t really know how to tell you how it felt. We’re both pretty ecstatic. We really didn’t think it was gonna happen, but we put faith in the lord and he brought it for us.”
Falling just 1 pound, 8 ounces short of the leaders was the team of Shane Lehew and Adam Winters from UNC-Charlotte with 47-3. Taking third place was Bethels’ Dillon McGee and Tanner Ellis with a total of 46-3. Rounding out the top five was Kyle Albers and Brad Kimrey of East Carolina with 46-2 and Hunter Shults and David Lambert of Tennessee-Knoxville with 45-12.
After a trying morning and an excess amount of boat pressure in their area, Ross and Swims had to scrap everything and move on to their backup plan. They relied on a bluff wall from practice for a later bite that led to a tournament-winning bag.
“In the pocket that we fished both days, there was only room for about two boats,” Swims said. “Today, at times, there were up to seven boats in there. At noon, we made the decision to leave and go run our secondary pattern and we got three keepers with our fifth one coming at 1:30. It was 22 pounds worth, which was just enough.”
Winning at any level is not easily obtained, but this week was a true test for the 116 collegiate teams. Weather alone was a constant factor. Overcast skies and rain on Day One muddied the water and then led into polar opposite conditions Saturday as high pressure and light winds cleared the water in many areas. The amount of boat traffic also had a major effect on the anglers with multiple events taking place on the ever-popular Lake Guntersville.
The right decisions at the right time must be made and each fish is critical when attempting to take home a title. That’s exactly what Swims and Ross did to entice their 22-4 into the boat on the final day.
“We did the same thing we were doing yesterday,” Ross said. “Pretty much just throwing these traps in about 4 to 5 feet of water around stumps. We were fishing around a lot of boats, but we were the only ones catching ‘em. We figured out you had to be burning that trap and rip it as soon as you got in the grass - I’m talking about rip it - they’d just kill it.”
For the runners-up from UNC-Charlotte, it was yet another tale of heartbreak. Last year, they finished third at the South Super Regional on the Alabama River. They had hoped Guntersville would give them the opportunity to get over the hump.
“You always want to get the win if you can,” Winters said. “That’s what we came down here to do, but second’s not bad either.”
The duo stuck with their original area and just followed the fish as they transitioned to a different spot about 200 yards away in Honeycomb Creek. Their consistency gave them a glimmer of hope that they could win, but it was short-lived.
“I thought we’d be close – I figured anywhere from 47 to 50 pounds would win,” Lehew said. “We needed one more big one either yesterday or today. It was a good day though. We culled a lot, probably 10 to 12 keepers, with most being in the 3.5- to 4-pound range.”
The next event in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series will be the East Super Regional on April 13-14 on Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County, Va.