JAMESTOWN, Ky. — Two heads are better than one, unless you’re Jack Dice of Liberty University.
In his case, fishing alone in a tournament filled with two-person teams wasn’t a deterrent. In fact, it was the self-check he needed to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Lake Cumberland presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The 21-year-old digital marketing major from Lynchburg, Va., was better than any team or other solo angler in the field, catching a pair of five-bass limits that totaled 32 pounds, 8 ounces.
In all, 212 of the 225 boats entered at Cumberland carried two-person teams, with 13 anglers, including, Dice, fishing alone.
“As a competitor, of course, I thought I could win,” Dice said. “But after practice, I didn’t think I was going to win. My hope was to catch five keepers every day and I really didn’t know if that was going to happen.”
Dice’s winning weight was nearly 3 1/2 pounds more than Matt Baker and Kory England of Arkansas Tech who caught 29-2 and finished second. Cal Culpepper and Mason Waddell of the University of Montevallo (Ala.) placed third with 27-3, Carter Ball and Austin Tapley of Adrian College (Mich.) were fourth with 27-0 and Joe McCloskey and Ryan Winchester of Bethel University (Tenn.) were fifth with 26-12.
Dice won $2,773 for the Liberty bass fishing team with his victory. He also qualified for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, to be held later this year at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Day 1 leaders Jacob Woods and Samuel Vandagriff of Tennessee Tech closed Saturday’s weigh-in, the only team with a chance to bump Dice from atop the leaderboard. Their Day 2 bag fell well short however, which sealed the win for Dice. He extended both title trophies toward the crowd, one in each hand, as a double helping of applause and camera flashes washed over him.
Dice weighed six smallmouth and four largemouth over two days to amass his winning weight. Each of the fish was caught in Indian Creek, which is about a 5-mile run from Halcomb’s Landing, site of take-offs and weigh-ins this week.
He caught a 5-2 largemouth Friday, the heaviest bass weighed on Day 1. A smallmouth that weighed just shy of 5 pounds was one of the heaviest bass boated overall on Day 2, as well.
“I dialed in the smallmouth a lot better today,” said Dice, who had four smallies among his 16-14 limit on Saturday, the heaviest bag weighed on Day 2.
“The smallmouth I caught Friday were on a Ned rig and a drop shot I was throwing into these little crevasses right along the bank. But I figured I burned those areas and had to try something different today. I ran all over this morning looking for active fish and it didn’t work out. So, I went back to (Indian Creek) and I lucked out. They were still there.”
Dice caught his best bass on Saturday using a 5-inch green pumpkin Gary Yamamoto Senko worm. The heavy largemouth that anchored his Day 1 bag came on a Megabass Magdraft swimbait.
“I actually used the swimbaits today to find the bedding smallmouth,” he said. “They’d swirl on it then you could throw back with the Senko to catch them.”
It amounted to a winning formula for Dice, who said he had several final exams waiting back at Liberty next week.
“I’ve had a couple of rough tournaments recently, so to have this all work out this week is just an incredible blessing,” he said. “It’s been an amazing week.”
Following their tournament-best bag of 17-4 on Day 1, Woods and Vandagriff slipped to seventh overall with four bass for 8-11 on Day 2. The former Bassmaster High School All-American anglers won a $250 Bass Pro Shops gift certificate with the week’s big bag.
Ball and Tapley of Adrian College won a $500 Carhartt gift certificate for weighing the heaviest bass of the event, a 6-2 smallmouth Tapley hooked mid-morning on Day 2 using a 4-inch green pumpkin tube bait.
“It was a bummer to only come in with four fish after having one like that, but we didn’t think we had (a 15-12 total today) either,” Tapley said. “That big fish helped. When I caught it, we definitely were freaking out.”
The top 10 percent of teams (23 in all) at Cumberland qualified for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The youngest B.A.S.S. anglers hit the water Sunday for a 6 a.m. CT takeoff in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, as well as the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series. Weigh-in for the one-day tournaments will begin at 1 p.m. for Juniors and at 2 p.m. for the High Schoolers.
The tournaments are being hosted by the Russell County Chamber of Commerce and State Dock on Lake Cumberland.