LAKEPORT, Calif. — Considering that Clear Lake is known for producing huge fish, no one thought it strange when Hank Weldon, Carhartt College Bassmaster Series manager, predicted that the anglers in the Western Conference Regional would set some milestones this weekend.
“I think some records will fall,” he said earlier today, before the weigh-in of the first Carhartt College Bassmaster Series Western Conference Regional kicked off. But even he didn’t expect to see one record fall twice.
Zach MacDonald and Ryan Sparks of Oregon State University were elated when they broke the one-day weight record for College B.A.S.S. today. Their limit of 29-7 eclipsed the previous record of 29-2. Everyone was sure they were today’s heroes.
That is, until less than five minutes later, when Robert “Bo” Harkins and Michael Braswell of Chico State University came in with a monumental 32-pound, 7-ounce bag, anchored by a 7-12, a 6-12 and a 6-10.
The Chico State team started off strong today, catching a limit before 10 a.m.
“We started at our first spot, but we ran up on other people fishing the area,” explained Harkins, a senior at Chico State. “We only stayed about 20 minutes, then we made a long run.”
Having to go to that second spot turned out to be a blessing because it was that area that really produced for them.
“We got a limit in an hour,” said Braswell. They spent the rest of the day culling up, including in the last hour of competition when they traded a 4-pounder for the 6-10, which put them solidly over the edge for the new record.
The teammates live 2 1/2 hours from Clear Lake and fish it often. “It’s the best fishing on the West Coast,” said Braswell, “so we spend a lot of time up here.”
A lot of the areas they fished today were ones they had sized up in practice. The fish had moved off their normal spots, but the cold front moved them back onto the spots.
“They’re telling us if they’re there, fast,” said Harkins.
Tomorrow, they plan to do a lot of the same things they did today, but they’ll skip the area that had anglers on it. “We have plenty of other areas we have confidence in,” Harkins added.
The team from Oregon State said they enjoyed holding the record for the few minutes they had it.
“Today was the best day of fishing in my life,” said Sparks.
“It was my personal best, too,” said MacDonald. “We hadn’t thought about the record before weigh-in, but we knew it was a good bag.”
The two-day competition concludes tomorrow. Take-off is at Konocti Vista Resort at 6:45 a.m. PT, and the weigh-in is also at Konocti Vista Resort at 2:45 p.m. PT. The Top 10 teams advance to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, Aug. 1-3, at Chatuge Reservoir in Georgia.