NATCHITOCHES, La. — Each of the 135 teams in the Strike King Bassmaster College Series at Red River presented by Bass Pro Shops had eight hours to fish on Thursday, but Cole Holloway and Brandon Martin only needed about two hours to make their mark.
The duo from Georgia’s Emmanuel College had a limit of five bass in the livewell by mid-morning that weighed 15 pounds, 14 ounces. That was good enough for the Day 1 lead in this two-day collegiate derby in northwest Louisiana.
Holloway, a 20-year-old resident of Madison, Ga., said early success on the Red River boosted his and Martin’s confidence.
“We had everything we weighed today by about 9 a.m.,” Holloway said. “We didn’t make another cast after that. We had a small limit on a shad spawn really early today when we were fishing an oxbow. Then we went to this backwater area and the 2-pounders became 3-pounders.”
The backwater bite was consistent, too, with the tandem’s heaviest bass weighing 3-12. A quartet of smaller 3-pounders rounded out an exciting morning. They targeted a ditch in the backwater where water ebbed and flowed.
“It happened quickly and we didn’t beat up on them,” Holloway said. “There are fish there for tomorrow.”
“We found the spot in practice and there really hasn’t been reason to go anywhere else,” said the 20-year-old Lula, Ga., resident.
Seth Elkins and Dale Hansard of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University are in second place with a limit weighing 13-12. That included the day’s biggest bass — a 6-5 largemouth Hansard hooked near a tree stump.
“It was picture perfect, like something you’d see in a magazine,” Hansard said. “It fought like crazy, too. I wasn’t sure it was a bass at first because there are a lot of gar and gators around here … It catches you off guard when you catch something like that, especially since we were catching 1 1/2-pounders all day.”
Elkins and Hansard made a long run to Pool 5, which is filled with underwater wood. They said they’ll go there again Friday, looking to make up a few pounds and bring a trophy back to Alabama.
Rounding out the Top 5 are, third, Parker O’Bryan and Miller Dowling, University of Montevallo (Ala.), 11-15; fourth, Brayden Nichols and William Tew, LSU-Shreveport, 11-12; and fifth, Reid Farris and Colton Swize, Texas A&M, 11-10.
A total of 88 of the 135 teams caught a five-bass limit on Day 1 on this, the fourth tournament of the 2023 Bassmaster College Series schedule. The top 14 teams here qualify for the College National Championship which will be held later this year at a location yet to be announced.
Day 2 will begin with a 6:10 a.m. CT takeoff from Grand ECORE Recreational Arena. Weigh-in is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. back at the arena, with full coverage on Bassmaster.com.
Following the two-day College Series event, the Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors and the Junior Series will compete Sunday.
This week’s tournaments are being hosted by the Red River Waterway Commission.