LA CROSSE, Wis. - Edward Rude III arrived in La Crosse, Wis., by way of a 16-hour drive from his hometown of Falling Waters, W.Va. He was in an unfamiliar town to fish in a tournament on an even more foreign body of water. It was the Mississippi River, a complex fishery to understand for an angler from the mountains of West Virginia.
Rude, 19, didn’t let the river’s daunting size and complex maze of backwaters confuse him for long. The West Virginia University business student found a game winning strategy and won the Carhartt College Series Midwest Super Regional. His two-day total was 31 pounds, 1 ounce and just good enough to shut out the 30-10 effort staged by Eric Tessmer and Korey Sybrant of St. Cloud University.
Rude’s winning strategy and his chosen area dumbfounded anglers from the Midwest schools. The prevailing pattern revolved around running-and-gunning for post-spawn bass on the move from backwater spawning areas. That was the game plan for St. Cloud University and a Winona State University team that finished in third place. (Click to view the final standings)
Rude was all alone in his area because it simply didn’t make sense to be there for anybody but an out-of-towner. His obscure area was located up the Black River in a small no-name bay. Its no-nothing bare bank sloped at a 45-degree angle into a 25-foot channel. There was nothing fishy for its entire run of 300 yards.
But the name of the game was the presence of baitfish. Rude saw them breaking the surface upon entering the area during a blind, random stop there on the final practice day.
Being on a strange body of water pointed Rude to a familiar choice in his tacklebox. With little else to go on he tied it on and went to work.
“A jerkbait is definitely a confidence lure for me,” he said. “So I threw it just for the confidence of knowing that if I could get something going on it then I would be fine.”
The pattern came together quickly on the first tournament day. A limit weighing 15-7 was swimming inside his livewell within 45 minutes of arrival time.
“There was just so much food in there the fish didn’t have any choice but to stay and feed,” he said. “Actually they had no reason to leave.”
During the short stay Rude boated a largemouth weighing 4-5 that eventually would tie for the Carhartt Big Bass Award. Following it to the boat were two more fish of the same size. Striped bass were part of the surface feeding frenzy that would erupt on occasion.
Certain the bass would stay with the bait he vacated the area at 8:30 a.m. Back at the weigh-in Rude held on to second place with a 4-ounce deficit behind the 15-11 weight of leaders Tessmer and Sybrant.
Rude arrived at the spot within minutes of the 5:30 a.m. takeoff time on the final day. Another limit was on board by 6:15 a.m. The bait hadn’t diminished in quantity and the bass were showing themselves again during their feeding attacks.
Rude stayed for the remainder of the day to upgrade his catch. The effort paid off with a 15-10 catch that measured up as the biggest sack of the tournament.
The confidence lure was a No. 8 clown-color Rapala X-Rap. He fished the jerkbait on 15-Seaguar InvizX that was spooled to Quantum bait cast reels. He fished the combo on a variety of medium/heavy action rods.
His technique was as simple as the area itself. All he did was cast the rig into the mix of bass and bait for the hookups.
“It just feels awesome to finally win one of these because it’s been a goal of mine,” said Rude.
Tessmer and Sybrant fished a backwater area featuring a mix of isolated boulders and stumps scattered along the shoreline. The setup is common in river pools 7 and 8 where the competition played out, with one notable exception.
“Our fish were spitting out crawfish in the livewell so we knew the area would be productive,” said Tessmer, 22, a business management student at St. Cloud State University.
“The bite was aggressive so that made it all the better for us,” added Sybrant, 24, an elementary education major.
Casting swimbaits at the boulders forming riprap and to the stumps was the team’s strategy. The presence of current was a key.
“The fish were behind and down current of the rocks and stumps,” said Sybrant. “They were holding in that slack water and then coming out to feed on the crawfish as they came by them.”
The University of Wisconsin’s Kyle Casper tied for the Carhartt Big Bass Award with his 4-5 largemouth caught on the final day. He caught the fish on a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss. He rigged it to a 5/0 Gamakatsu EMG hook and 1/4 –ounce sinker. He was flipping the rig on a grassy point when the strike occurred at a depth of 4 feet.
The Midwest Super Regional is one of four qualifying events toward the Carhartt College Series National Championship. The championship will determine the berth reserved for the top college bass angler at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.