LAKEPORT, Calif. — Just Saturday, Zach MacDonald and Ryan Sparks of Oregon State University broke the record for the biggest one-day catch in a Carhartt Bassmaster College Series tournament with a 29-7 bag. And they promptly lost it.
But Sunday, they set another record, and this time they get to hold onto it for a while.
The team caught 25-5 Sunday, adding to Saturday’s total to make their total weight for the tournament 54 pounds, 12 ounces — a solid 8 ounces heavier than any other two-day haul in a College Series event.
“It feels good to break a record and keep it,” said MacDonald on stage after their catch was weighed.
MacDonald and Sparks won the Western Conference Regional on Clear Lake by more than a pound, and the pair advances to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Georgia’s Chatuge Reservoir, Aug. 1-3. In the meantime, the teammates are driving back to Corvallis, Ore., Sunday night — an eight-hour drive — because the two fish & wildlife majors have class Monday.
MacDonald grew up about an hour northwest of Clear Lake in Willits, Calif., so he has extensive knowledge of Clear Lake. However, the fish weren’t in their usual haunts, said MacDonald, and most of the fish they weighed in came from places he’d never fished in a tournament before.
Although the pair had spent their time pre-fishing the north end, their victory came from the south end of Clear Lake, in the Red Bud and Konocti Bay areas. They weren’t getting the bites they wanted up north, and there were too many other anglers around up there. On the southern side, they only saw one or two boats Saturday and a handful Sunday.
They fished lots of different kinds of cover — docks, tules and rocks — and had most of their success with drop shots and Senkos.
“Anywhere there was a dock that protected the bank, we caught them,” said MacDonald. The team had their limit by 10 or 11 a.m. Saturday, and they left their most productive spots to save their fish for Sunday.
However, Sunday, they caught four of the five fish they weighed in an area they hadn’t visited. A series of posts sticking out of the water, spaced 10 to 20 feet apart, produced for them.
“We’d use a drop shot, shake it a little, and they would eat it on the sit,” explained MacDonald. The drop shot consisted of a 4 1/2-inch hand-poured worm from Western Fishing Operations or a 6-inch RoboWorm in morning dawn color. They varied the sinkers from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce, and they used a 3/0 Lazer TroKar hook.
Sparks and MacDonald used 8- and 10-pound-test Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon. Sparks fished with a 6-9 G.Loomis drop shot rod and Quantum PT reel, and MacDonald chose a 7-0 Dobyns Micro Guide spinning rod and a Shimano Stradic CI4 2500 reel.
MacDonald tied for the Carhartt Big Bass of the Tournament with a 7-12 he caught Saturday. Bo Harkins of Chico State caught a 7-12 Saturday as well. Sunday, the biggest bass came from Andrew Loberg of Chico State. He caught a 7-3, and he and his partner, Brandon Walker, finished in second place.
Joining MacDonald and Sparks at the championship in August will be the nine other teams that made the Top 10, including anglers from Chico State, San Jose State, Sacramento State, Cal State Long Beach, Eastern Washington University, Cal Poly State University and Utah Valley University.
“That’s going to be awesome,” said Sparks, who grew up in Alaska chasing salmon and steelhead. Neither of the Western Regional champions has ever been to Georgia, and both said they’re looking forward to it.
The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series isn’t taking a break: Another regional is coming up next weekend. Tune in to Bassmaster.com for updates about the Eastern Conference Regional, April 12-13, on Lake Norman in Charlotte, N.C.