CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Saturday's weather on Lake Norman has been as miserable as predicted.
The temperature has hovered right around 40 degrees all morning and the rain that started in the wee hours on Friday hasn’t slacked much at all.
But if one thing has been certain this week in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series tournament presented by Bass Pro Shops, it’s that the worse the weather, the better the big bass bite.
We haven’t heard much from the 12 boats competing in today’s final round, but if the first two days of competition are an indication, one of the remaining dozen teams has taken advantage of the foul conditions and hooked into quality bass.
The largemouth bite has been key this week. While spotted bass were plentiful and provided quick limits for numerous teams, it was the largemouths in the 3 to 5-pound range that separated the final 12 tandems from the field of 256 teams that started this tournament on Thursday.
North Carolina State’s Jacob Moore and Gilliam Tharpe lead the tournament after weighing limits of five bass both days of the event. Seven of those 10 bass were largemouths, including a 6-pound, 13-ounce bass Moore caught on Thursday.
The Wolfpack duo has a two-day total of 27-1 heading into the final round, and they said they're confident they can find additional largemouth bites to remain in the pole position on Lake Norman.
Unlike the weather, it’s impossible to predict which team will have the strongest finish today. That said, the Oklahoma State duo of Taylor Hamburger and Tristen Turley merits attention. The Cowboys weighed a 15-14 limit on Friday, which was the heaviest bag of the day and the second heaviest of the tournament. They are in second place with a 24-11 total.
Though only a freshman, Hamburger has tournament experience that belies his age. He was the non-boater champion of the Oklahoma B.A.S.S. Nation as a high school student, so he's used to fishing in pressure situations.
Hamburger said Friday afternoon that he and Turley pinpointed a spot holding big largemouth bass during practice, and that they’ve purposely not overfished the area in hopes they could exploit it on Day 3.
Any one of the dozen remaining teams can make a run at the title, however, as only 5 pounds and 10 ounces separates first place from 12th. The teams will split $8,500 in cash prizes for their schools' bass fishing teams, with the winners earning $2,500 for their school.
Stay tuned to Bassmaster.com where you can catch the final weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. today.