Nebraska duo overcomes mechanical issues to make final day cut at Pickwick

In preparation for the final event of his college career, Hunter Suchsland ran through an entire checklist to make sure his boat was in proper shape to take on Pickwick Lake during the Strike King Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.

But as many anglers often find out, even the best laid plans go astray. 

Hours before the biggest tournament of their lives to date, Suchsland and his University of Nebraska-Lincoln partner Cade Ludwig found themselves without a functioning bass boat. 

But with some help from their teammates back at home, the duo was able to borrow a rig and now find themselves in the Top 12 with 30 pounds, 9 ounces. 

After doing some routine maintenance ahead of the tournament, Suchsland and Ludwig arrived at Pickwick Sunday evening and everything went smoothly until Wednesday afternoon.

“We come across this corner and hit two waves and I hear the motor slapping against the back of the boat,” Suchsland said. “We pull over, I get up, push on it and it moves away from the boat. The transom just disconnected. Thank God we got off the water when we did. We had to idle back.”

Knowing this would not be a quick fix, the duo immediately started reaching out to friends and family to see if anyone would be willing to loan a boat and sure enough, their teammates pulled through. 

At about 2:30 p.m., Suchsland began a 6 hour drive to St. Louis to pick up the boat as well as his dad, who was coming down to watch the event anyway but helped his son drive back to Counce. Ludwig, meanwhile, represented the team during the sponsor night and pre-tournament briefing.

“We scrambled for a while trying to find a boat,” Ludwig said. “Obviously Nebraska is really far. We cut it really close, so we were trying to find the nearest boat, which happened to be in Nebraska. It was a desperate time for sure.”

Suchsland arrived at Pickwick Landing State Park an hour and a half before takeoff with just two hours of sleep under his belt. He and Ludwig then proceeded to catch 16-6 on Day 1.

“I picked him up, we switched gear over and then we fished,” Suchsland said. “Thank God it worked out.”

Before chaos broke out around them, Suchsland and Ludwig found a pattern in their final hours of practice that they believed could lead to multiple bites. So when they did make it back to Pickwick Lake, they knew exactly what they were going to do.

“We caught a lot of fish on Day 1. We caught a lot of 2 pounders and made a lot of small culls. All around, it was a really good day,” Ludwig said. 

“We went against the grain,” Suchsland added. “Nebraska is really shallow and we love flipping a jig. We haven’t touched a ledge the entire time we’ve been here. We said if we were going, we are going to do what we like.”

When it is all said and done, Suchsland said he is grateful to have the opportunity to fish in this tournament. After they came off the weigh-in stage, they were convinced they would be the first or second team out of the cut. 

But today, they are competing for a chance to make the College Classic Bracket.

“We really couldn’t ask for any better,” Suchsland said. “We thought the whole time we were going to have to idle around and take on water the whole time and use the bilge pumps. To go out and grind out the weights we did and compete, that’s all we could have asked for.”