NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Jonas Ertel and Tyler Moberly of Eastern Kentucky University looked at a map of Brewer Lake for about 10 seconds Friday night.
They had just been told it’s where they’d fish for the College Bass National Championship and this was their first look at the body of water.
“Where would you go?” Ertel asked Moberly. Moberly pointed to a spot offshore. Ertel smiled, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
They had a limit from the spot by 7 a.m. and never left on their way to a 21.39-pound limit that beat second place Georgia by almost 10 pounds. They caught the majority of their fish on a football jig.
“I thought we had it won by 7 a.m.,” said Moberly, who has finished seventh twice in the national championship. “But I started getting more and more nervous as the day went on.”
EKU was the only team that didn’t hit the banks early. Both Moberly and Ertel said they’re more comfortable fishing deep and they do a lot of it in Kentucky, specifically on Kentucky Lake.
“We’re used to sitting in 50 feet of water and throwing into 30 feet,” Ertel said.
Brewer Lake set up perfectly for the pair, but Moberly said it was a stroke of luck that got them that far. After weighing in 8.51 pounds off the Arkansas River on Thursday (eighth place), Moberly said he was excited to see that safety concerns was moving the tournament to Maumelle, a deep, clear lake.
“I don’t think we would have made the cut if the event has stayed on the river,” Moberly said. “Everything worked in our favor.”
Randy Tolbert and Ben Cleary, the team from Georgia who brought in a field-stomping 14.55 pounds on Day One of the event, said he knew they might be in trouble after a short look at Brewer Lake.
“I knew EKU was going to be tough to beat because it really fit their style of fishing,” Tolbert said.
Alabama’s Dustin Connell and Daniel Taylor finished third with 7.88 pounds despite fishing without a graph.
“I knew they were going to be deep, but we had no choice but to fish shallow,” Connell said.
The two teams that tied for the heaviest two-day weight coming into the final – Louisiana State and Northwestern Sate – both struggled on Saturday.
“I knew things were breaking down as soon as I started fishing deep,” said Doug McClung of LSU. “The deepest water in Louisiana is in my bathtub.”
Paul Rini, of Northwestern State, said they had the same trouble – there just aren’t many good deep lakes in Louisiana to practice.
“Most of what I know about fishing deep I’ve learned in the College Bass events,” Rini said. “I’m getting better, but it’s a process.”
As for the champions, who snuck in by .15 ounces over Arkansas on Friday and fell into a perfect situation on Saturday, they said it was EKU’s time.
“I can’t even talk right now,” Ertel said. “This is crazy. My head is going wild right now.”
Moberly said he hopes this helps raise EKU’s status among the top clubs in the country.
“A lot of people overlook EKU, but we’re always at the top,” he said. “It feels good to show people what we’re capable of.”