FORT MADISON, Iowa — Marshall Sandretto and Eric Logisz of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) climbed from fourth place to claim the top prize in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwestern Regional Championship Thursday on Iowa’s Lake Sugema.
The teammates won on the strength of consistent daily limits weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces on Wednesday and 9 pounds, 8 ounces Thursday for a two-day total of 17-11.
The Midwestern Regional was plagued by rough weather from the beginning, and the final weigh-in was delayed because of inclement weather. Changes began on the eve of the final practice day when, in the interest of angler safety, B.A.S.S. officials elected to move the event from the flooded Mississippi River to nearby Lake Sugema.
Another challenge to the collegiate anglers was a slot limit on the lake’s bass that prevents keeping fish between 12 and 18 inches. The young fishermen caught plenty of tiny, 10- to 12-inch bass, which they could weigh in, and lots of 12- to 18-inchers, which they could not. The rare 18-plus-inch fish, which they called “overs,” were game-changers.
“We had two ‘overs’ each day,” Logisz said. “But those ‘unders’ put us up about a pound and a half or so.”
Anglers fought this slot all week, with many teams catching a limit of “slot fish” that would have added 10 to 12 pounds to their scores, but instead were able only to weigh in limits of five fish for 2 or 3 pounds. Some anglers tried to target only overs but never reached a limit. Others tried to catch anything they could but fell short of qualifying without a quality bite.
It was MSOE’s Sandretto and Logisz who figured out the right combination of quantity and quality. Without their overs or unders, they would not have won the regional.
“Yesterday, we started off doing a bunch of stuff,” Logisz said. “We flipped and pitched a little bit, threw a spinnerbait and tried to get some reaction bites, but we couldn’t get anything going.”
The pair finally found cooperative fish when they began flipping green pumpkin beaver creature baits around real shallow trees on windy banks.
Day Two was more of the same for the team from Milwaukee, with one exception. After only getting a few bites early, they decided the increased cloud cover called for a change in bait color.
“Marshall switched to a black-and-blue Texas rigged beaver, and that’s what we caught our big fish on,” Logisz said.
Catching numbers of fish wasn’t a problem for most anglers on Sugema this week, and it was no different for MSOE.
“We just went through a lot of fish,” Sandretto said. “We would catch shorts, then we’d catch fish in the slot, and then we would eventually catch a bigger one. It was just kind of random where the large ones were.”
MSOE sampled a few other baits and techniques but relied heavily on the flipping game with one common theme throughout their pattern: wind. With winds out of the south, the MSOE team members focused their efforts on the north shore of the lake, where they caught all of their fish this week.
In addition to their win, Sandretto and Logisz qualified for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held on Lake Chatuge, Aug. 1-3. They will be joined by second-place finishers, Jackson Grabeel and Joseph Reilly of Western Illinois University, along with the remainder of the Top 10 finishers from Lake Sugema.
Nick Carter and Leo Dedering of the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, brought in the Carhartt Big Bass Friday. It weighed 6-7 and earned the team a $500 Carhartt gift card.
Winning the tournament’s Livingston Lures Leader award of $500 in product for being in the lead on Day Two were Sandretto and Logisz. The winners also walked away with the Bass Pro Shops contingency winnings of $500. The Bass Pro Shops Big Bag Award of $250 went to Day One leaders Ben Zuk and Ethan Dhuyvetter of Kansas State, who had a Day One weight of 11-15.