GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Patrick Walters and Tyler All of the University of South Carolina claimed the title of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Winyah Bay with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 14 ounces of bass.
The Summerville, S.C., anglers stayed consistent on Thursday and Friday of this three-day event and saved their explosion for Championship Saturday as they weighed 20 pounds, 11 ounces — the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament.
Unlike most teams this week, Walters and All targeted an offshore school of bass and capitalized with a solid limit each of the first two days. Most of the bass they weighed in were caught during the first hour of their fishing time. The only thing they were missing each day, was a bigger bass that would provide a comfortable margin over the rest of the field. Today, when it counted most, they checked that accomplishment off the list.
"We targeted bends in the river where the tide and current would concentrate groups of fish," Walters said. "We focused our efforts on the main river."
As usual, the pair limited out early and even culled a few times. But the bite stalled after the first hour and half. They changed spots, but Walters felt an overwhelming urge to go back to their bread-and-butter fishing hole that had placed them in the lead.
"We fished a few other areas within this river, and we just didn't feel comfortable there today," Walters said. "We went back to our best area and stuck it out. The bigger fish bit for us today."
The Gamecock teammates utilized both soft and hard jerkbaits to mimic shad and entice bites in a river ditch on the Santee River. They caught most of their bass on soft jerkbaits, but the biggest fish of the day hit a hard jerkbait.
Their 7-pound, 6-ounce largemouth today landed them the Bassmaster Big Bass Award, and they also managed the Nitro Boats Big Bag of the Tournament with the 20-11 stringer. For taking the lead after Day 2, the duo also took the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award worth $500 in merchandise.
Coastal Carolina's Jonathan Kelley and Max McQuaide stayed in second place after weighing 12-15 on Championship Saturday. They managed 38-14 for the three-day event, but fell to Walters and All by 9 pounds.
Kelley and McQuaide ran their boat more than 70 miles one way to get to an area in the Pee Dee River where they found plenty of bass all day, but no big ones. Their struggles on Thursday with cloudy conditions hurt their week, but they managed to stay consistent and land limits in the 12- to 14-pound range all week.
The duo of Noah Pescitelli and Sean Hall of the Savannah College of Art and Design jumped from sixth into third on the final day, as they brought the second biggest bag of the day to the scales. They stayed consistent the first two rounds, weighing limits in the 10-pound range. Their 13-14 limit today produced a final tally of 35-4.
Collin Smith and Ben Stone of Lander University were fourth with 34-5, and Rick Couch Jr. and John Kaufman of Central Florida finished fifth with 31-7.
The Top 13 teams earned a berth in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, to be held this summer.