EVANS, Ga. — After three top 10 finishes without a win with College Bass, the team of Tyler Moberly and Richard Cobb from Eastern Kentucky University finally claimed the championship trophy Sunday.
Their two-day weight of 24.84 pounds gave them the victory by over 5 pounds in the College Bass East Super Regional on Clarks Hill Lake in Evans, Ga.
"We were tired of not winning," said a smiling Richard Cobb. "We have been in contention every year for the [Under Armour College Bass National] Championship, and it makes you mad to come up short every time."
Finishing a distant second was Richard Peek and Mason Craver from Auburn University, bringing in 19.83 pounds over the two days of competition. Georgia Southern University's Seth Cannon and David Mesplay landed in third place after catching 18 pounds.
Rounding out the top five teams was Penn State University's Dave Grube and Timothy Selway in fourth place with 17.79 pounds and Day One leaders Kyle Tindol and Michael Eubanks from Faulkner University with 16.8 pounds.
Eastern Kentucky posted the biggest bag of the tournament on Day Two, 14.29 pounds, to clinch the tournament title after drastically changing strategies from the first day.
They fished docks on Day One en route to a solid limit of bass that had them in second place and well within striking distance of the leaders.
"When you come up short so many times — that was one of the biggest reasons that made us take a gamble today," said Cobb. "We were tired of not winning, so we decided to go big or go home and completely changed up."
Their winning strategy on Day Two consisted of fishing deep clay points with chunk rock where it dropped into the channel. Using black/blue Cumberland Pro Caster jigs and a green pumpkin or flipping blue chunk trailer, Moberly and Cobb got off to a quick start, boating 8 pounds in their first five casts of the day.
"The big one we caught first thing barely got in the net and the hook just fell right out," Cobb said. "It was real teamwork — I caught three keepers the first day and Tyler caught two and then he caught three today and I caught two."
Aside from the tournament victory, Cobb, better known around the tour as RC-5, also set the record for participating in the most College Bass events. He has fished three championships and now this regional event and he insists he is not done yet.
"I fished my first one as a freshman, so I'm actually on time to graduate," Cobb said. "I could make it four championships or maybe even five if I graduate in December."
If he does fish the next two championships, it could very well be a record that will never be broken.
The second-place team of Peek and Craver from Auburn University recovered well from a lower unit incident on Day One, but a lost fish on the final day will haunt their ride home.
"We were fishing really windy points," said Peek. "Mason had just caught a 4-pounder off one point and then I followed that up with another 4-pounder off the next point. On the third point, the big one bit.
"It was hard to feel the bite in the wind — it was just a real light bite and then it started coming straight toward the boat. As it came right by us, it changed directions, shook its head and pulled off. That fish was all of 7 pounds and it would have helped us cull one keeper that was just barely 12 inches."
They still managed to pull off a second-place finish, even after losing their best afternoon bite on Saturday due to the lower unit problems and getting limited afternoon fishing on Sunday because of Daylight Savings Time.
Peek and Craver fished the wind-blown points with shad raps and red rattletraps to boat their limits, culling just once each tournament day.
Another team that dealt with adversity was the third-place finishers from Georgia Southern, Cannon and Mesplay. They arrived in Evans without practicing Friday night and missed the pre-tournament meeting, which sent them out as the last boat each day of the tournament.
"We had no practice at all," Cannon said. "We found a cove Saturday that had a beautiful ditch with several feeder creeks and a spawning flat that was just perfect for this time of year. We caught most of our fish throwing traps and Carolina rigs."
Their tournament defining moment came on Day One, when a big bass came off right at the net.
"I will sleep with that one for a long time," said Cannon. "It was in the net except for her head and as we pulled up the net, she shook here head and slipped right back out and was gone. That would have given us an easy second place, but we probably couldn't have caught the leaders."
A big record that fell on the final day of the East Super Regional is now in the hands of Grube and Selway from Penn State. Their one fish on Sunday weighed 8.55 pounds and vaulted them to fourth place. It was easily the largest bass ever caught in College Bass competition.
"Timothy was getting really frustrated at that point in the day, partially because we hadn't caught any fish and I was bending out his treble hooks on rocks," Grube said. "He was really, really mad and hadn't spoken to me in two hours."
All that changed in a hurry when Grube hooked something off a wind-blown point on a big spinnerbait.
"I thought I hit a rock," Grube said. "At that point, I knew he would be mad since I figured I got hung up, so I just stayed quiet and kind of started pulling on it. Even when it started pulling back, I didn't quite get that it was a fish because I hadn't had a bite all day."
At first, the two anglers thought they might have hooked into a carp when it eventually started putting up a fight. Then the fish came up and did a head shake and that's when Selway realized how big the fish really was.
"Then the fish decided to dive under the boat and Dave just froze and didn't do anything," Grube said. "I grabbed the front of the rod and pushed it into the water and told him to reel."
At that point, things became somewhat of a blur for the Big Ten anglers, and the story got a little hazy.
"It was a big haze of water, fins and people screaming and yelling," Grube said. "That was the biggest fish of my life easily — by two pounds."
The next College Bass event is the West Super Regional on Lake Palestine in Tyler, Texas, April 18-19. For more information on that event, visit http://www.collegebass.com.