Chico State takes lead on Folsom

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kevin Chen and Koulton Westbrook of Chico State took the Day 2 lead on Folsom Reservoir in the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops.

The competitors caught 13 pounds, 2 ounces on Friday and currently have a 23-14 total. Their lead is only 9 ounces, so they have to work hard on the final day to ensure they can lift the Western Regional trophy on Day 3 on the Bassmaster Elite Series stage.

“We just had a great time today,” said Chen, 21, a mechanical engineering major. “We like to enjoy our time out there.”

That makes sense, considering he and Westbrook have been friends since third grade and learned how to fish together.

“Most of these guys learned to fish from their dads, but we think of ourselves as ‘self-made’ fishermen,” Chen said. “We got interested in it and learned it on our own, fishing out of an aluminum boat.”

The longtime friends would ask their parents to drop them off in the boat and would spend all day prying bass out of the Delta, Lake Berryessa and Clear Lake.

Despite the fact that they grew up near here, the pair have almost no experience on Folsom Reservoir.

“We pre-fished it last Saturday,” Westbrook said, “and it rained!”

It almost never rains here, which is why Folsom is at half pool right now. So, based on how it changed the conditions, they considered their pre-fish virtually useless.

“We based our fishing here on how we fish Lake Oroville,” which is near their school in Chico, Calif. “We figured it would be similar because it’s a clear-water reservoir,” Chen added, “so we decided to throw spinnerbaits and some other things, and it turned out in our favor.”

“We knew it was a spread between prespawn, spawn and postspawn,” Westbrook said, “and we saw them busting on shad in the morning, so we took that as a clue.”

On Thursday, the teammates caught 10-12 and ended the day in seventh place.

“Today was a more spread out bite,” Chen said. “They were more aggressive yesterday. Today, they had moved into the walls of the coves. We caught one of our biggest early in the morning on a jerkbait.”

On Saturday, the pair intend to go after the same pattern, but they may head south. They have been fishing in the northern part of Folsom.

For taking the lead, Chen and Westbrook win the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader award of $250 each for Livingston Lures products.

In contention for the Carhartt Big Bass prize are Jarid Gabbert and Taylor Throop of Eastern Washington University. The team caught a 6-15 bass — bigger than the Day 1 big bass by more than 2 pounds — early on Day 2. If their weight holds up, they’ll win $500 in Carhartt gear.

All the competitors are going all in tomorrow, the final day of the tournament. They’re vying for a spot in the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, July 9-11, on Lake DuBay in Wisconsin.

Nineteen teams from the following colleges are competing on Folsom: Cal Poly, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Chico State, Eastern Washington University, Humboldt State University, Oregon State University, Sacramento State, San Jose State and University of Oregon.

Competition will resume Saturday, May 2, from Granite Bay Activity Center in Granite Bay at 5:50 a.m. PT. Anglers will weigh in on the Bassmaster Elite Series stage in Sacramento at Discovery Park around 2 p.m. PT, where the winning team will be crowned.

Watch the tournament unfold at Bassmaster.com.