Del Rio, TEXAS – Tanner Cooper and Memo Nunez of New Mexico State University out-fished the 55-boat field on Day One and took the lead of the Carhartt College Series Central Regional with 19-8.
Anglers were salivating at the start of the Central Regional. Reports of double-digit fish catches and 30-pound bags during practice had everyone ready to get underway. But for some reason, the bite changed.
Several anglers noted a finicky bite on Day One where fish would spit the bait before they could set the hook. When they did hook up, a more-than-usual number of anglers complained of lost fish. The fish “just weren't getting the bait.”
One team that didn't seem to have an issue was that of New Mexico State University's Cooper and Nunez.
“It's a tough bite and it takes a lot of patience,”said Cooper in reference to their Day One pattern that landed them 19-8. “What we're doing takes having good electronics.”
“We don't have any kind of special baits,” said Cooper. “We're throwing the same baits as everybody else but we've been able to catch fish everywhere we've went. There is a subtle thing we're doing to catch bigger fish.”
The New Mexico State team is fishing about 12 feet deep in Mexican and American waters, with the majority of their weight coming from the Mexican side.
When asked if they were satisfied with their Day One weight, Cooper graciously admitted he had hoped for more.
“Our best three in (practice) one day would have been about what we had today (19-8),” said Cooper. “I think we've got to catch more than we had today to win.”
What changed the weights from practice to the tournament?
“I think the cold front early in the week shut the fish down but I'm extremely optimistic about tomorrow,” said Cooper.
Colt Farris and Hunter Randolph of Tarleton State University are happy to be sitting in 2nd but had hoped that their bag would have been heavier than 17-8.
“It could have been better,” said Farris. “We had a really good practice. We caught 25 to 30 keepers today fishing umbrella rigs and running all American waters. We're thinking about running some Mexican waters tomorrow. It’s stuff we saved for Day Two.”
“We're fishing deep and really slow,” said Farris. “The water level doesn't really affect what we're doing. We're looking for bluff walls no matter where they are. We had a lot of big bites in practice, multiple 5's and 4's and a 6-and-a-half. We're hoping to get some of those bites tomorrow.”
As to what Farris thinks changed between practice and Day One?
“I think the warming trend is moving the fish from staging to spawning,” said Farris. “The water changed three degrees today. But we're going to stick to our game plan and fish deep tomorrow. There are enough fish deep that our areas should replenish.”
Cody Garrett and Colton Cavazos of Texas A&M - Kingsville sit in 3rd with 17-4.
“We were really shooting for 20 pounds today but we're satisfied with the day. I think 20 pounds is going to be what it takes for us to win tomorrow,” said Garrett.
“We kind of have a pattern that's working all over the lake. You can tell before you cast that you're going to get bit. It's been more trouble finding the bigger fish than keepers. We caught about 20 fish today.”
Many teams are fishing in crowds this week. Though Texas A&M - Kingsville is around boats some of the time, they have their better areas to themselves.
“We've done a lot of running and gunning,” said Garrett. “But when we find a better stretch with the bigger ones we're by ourselves.”
Randy Sullivan and Hubbel Allens of Hardin-Simmons University hold down the bubble spot sitting in 11th place going into Day Two with 14-8.
The Top 11 teams after tomorrow will advance to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held on Chatuge Reservoir in Young Harris, Ga., August 1-3. For more on the National Championship, click here.
Daily coverage of this week's event will feature a live video stream from the weigh-in, photo galleries, BASSCam videos and stories on Bassmaster.com.
Teams will launch at the Diablo East Boat Ramp daily at 7 a.m. CT, with weigh-ins also at Diablo East starting at 3:10 p.m. CT. For more information concerning the event, please click here.