MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The University of Arkansas claimed major bragging rights Saturday when their four-man fishing team marched into the backyard of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to steal the Bassmaster College Classic title on Lake Hudson with 36 pounds, 2 ounces.
Their nearly 8-pound victory was capped off by the 21-pound, 9-ounce five-fish stringer that Clay Ramey and Taylor Denniston hauled in. Backed up with a solid 14-pound, 9-ounce bag from Jerid Jones and Turner Hall, and the Razorbacks' two-team total was plenty big enough to walk away with the hardware.
"Earlier in the year we had a tournament against OU and OSU and we won by a big margin," Razorback president Jerid Jones said. "That's two tournaments in a row that we just whooped them."
The Oklahoma State University team of Trevor Parks and Chase Edmiston combined with Brody Hensley and Orie Chambers to post 28 pounds, 7 ounces for a second-place finish. Just ounces behind was Oklahoma University's Chip Porché and Mark Johnson with their teammates Paul Muzljakovich and Tyler Nipper putting up 28 pounds, 3 ounces.
The scales don't tell the whole tale of how Arkansas triumphed, as the day began a whole lot differently for Ramey and Denniston. They only had one small keeper in the boat at 10 a.m. and were almost ready to scrap their plans when they found the mother lode.
"We made about five to 10 casts without a bite when Taylor hooked a 4-pounder," Ramey said. "That fired them up because on four consecutive casts, we hooked a keeper. I netted his first one and when I picked my crankbait back up, there was a fish on."
Each two-man team was allowed to bring in five keeper bass and then the total team weight determined the overall Bassmaster College Classic champions. After Ramey and Denniston got that initial limit, they went looking for a bigger fish and found it not long after in the form of a nearly 7-pound largemouth.
"Clay had caught one on a place we hadn't even practiced on," Denniston said. "It was a bluff wall in about 20 feet of water and right after he caught that fish, I fired back out there with my worm and hooked the big one. Fortunately, it was hooked pretty well because it went to flopping back and forth."
The Oklahoma State University team of Parks and Edmiston were within hearing range, noting the celebration that went on across the lake.
"We saw them catch that big one and they were hooting and hollering," Edmiston said. "We didn't see it happen, but we could hear them screaming like little girls."
Despite the good natured ribbing and trash talk that goes on in any collegiate sport, Edmiston and Parks were quick to acknowledge the friendships that form across college lines. Plus, they had the consolation of edging out their rivals from Oklahoma University.
"They are pretty good guys, but it's pretty good to beat them too," Parks said. "We're more upset that we let Arkansas come into our state and beat us."
Both Arkansas anglers got excited the minute the big fish first cleared the water, knowing it would make them hard to beat.
"It started tail dancing right beside the boat, running back and forth," Ramey said. "It definitely didn't like the boat. Once we got that one in, we fished for a few more minutes and then headed back to the ramp early in case something happened."
Their caution paid off and in front of an Oklahoma crowd, the University of Arkansas pumped their fists in celebration and hoisted the Bassmaster College Classic trophy high, bringing the bragging rights back to Arkansas until next time.
University of Arkansas — 36 pounds, 2 ounces
Oklahoma State University — 28 pounds, 7 ounces
Oklahoma University — 28 pounds, 3 ounces