BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In the first-ever winner’s tie of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, the University of Oklahoma’s Caleb Masters and Landon Dixon and the University of West Alabama’s James Brumbelow and Andrew Warbington shared the trophy. Each team brought 16 pounds to the scales.
On Alabama’s Lay Lake in Sunday’s fifth annual College Classic, the Oklahoma team spent most of the day in Spring Creek. Dixon said that the seasonal prespawn movement positioned fish in predictable locations, so he and Masters fished on instinct.
“We caught fish on a lot of stuff where I didn’t get a bite in practice, but it was one of those deals where it just looked right,” Dixon said. “It was just time for them to be there.”
Targeting riprap banks in 6 to 8 feet of water, the Oklahoma anglers caught fish on jigs, shaky heads and crankbaits, but the latter proved most productive. The Bomber Model 7A crankbait and Norman Deep Little N, both in the red craw color, produced most of their bites.
Masters said that most of his team’s bass came before 10:30 a.m.
Brumbelow and Warbington caught their fish in Paint Creek and in pockets off the main lake. They targeted sloping banks and caught their fish on Strike King 1.5 squarebill crankbaits in about 1 to 3 feet deep. They caught fish all day, but Brumbelow said morning was the most productive time for the team.
Warbington said his team got only six bites, but they were able to boat each fish.
“We loosened our drags when we were fighting each fish so we didn’t put too much pressure on them and pull the hooks,” he said.
Also competing were: Trey Clayton and Timothy Ward of Auburn University, Jacob Nummy and Corey Pierce of Auburn University at Montgomery, Nic Davis and Cody Kennedy of Calhoun Community College, Nathan George and Josh Oliver of Gadsden Community College, Jakarvis Houston and Colby Smith of Jacksonville State, Alex Clayton and Trey O’Daniel of Northeast Alabama Community College, Charlie Hurst and Keith Kirkley of the University of Alabama, Wesley Anderson and Cody Harrison of the University of North Alabama, Jennings Earnest and Ethan Wages of the University of South Alabama, Ethan Flack and J.R. Sapp of Wallace State Community College-Hanceville, Auston Wingard and Wesley Minor of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Joseph Fuller and Travis King of the University of Montevallo.
College competitors took off at 6:10 a.m. from Beeswax State Park landing in Columbiana, Ala., and weighed in at 3:45 p.m. at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham prior to the final weigh-in of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.
Teams competed for bragging rights and a berth in the sixth annual Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic next year in Greenville, S.C. The University of Oklahoma and University of West Alabama each earned a spot in that event.
“Education is very important, and for these college anglers to be at the Bassmaster Classic, they get to see what it’s like to be a professional angler,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S.’s manager for high school, college and youth programs. “That’s helping shape them if they want to make the next step in their fishing careers, or it could potentially help them land a job in the future. So this is giving them an all-around education on this business of bass fishing.”