SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Laj Tripp and Kyle Sittman of Eastern Washington University outfished the field Thursday, the first round of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The pair caught 13 pounds on Folsom Reservoir and now lead the tournament by nearly a pound and a half.
“We had a great day,” said Tripp, a freshman majoring in business marketing at EWU. “We didn’t really make any mistakes. We had a few break-offs, but that’s just fishing.”
“Our practice paid off,” Sittman said. “We’ve been here since Sunday night and we developed a pretty good pattern in our time on the water.”
In fact, the teammates thought they might catch 10 or 11 pounds based on their practice, but their Day 1 catch of a 4-pound, 14-ounce bass pushed their overall weight up.
“I caught her on a bed, but I broke her off,” Tripp said. “I went after the male on the same bed and hooked him, then she ended up coming back and I got her again! This time I got her in the boat.”
That 4-14 is in the lead for the Carhartt Big Bass of the tournament. If it holds up, he and Sittman will win a $500 gift card for Carhartt clothing.
Both anglers credit their dads for their success in fishing. Sittman, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, said his father took him fishing all the time as a kid, and the two fished together as a hobby.
Tripp had a similar experience with his father, Jeremy. “He’s always been the one trying to do something like this, always fishing the B.A.S.S. Nation events and other tournaments when he can, but he’s always had to work,” Tripp said. “So he gets the credit for this.”
Tripp’s father was a mentor to Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk, who taught the younger Tripp how to use a swimbait, which is one of the tactics he and Sittman employed today on Folsom. But the two are keeping the rest of their strategy to themselves, calling it “last-day talk.”
What they will say is that they’re running a pattern in multiple parts of the lake, and it tends to start working around mid-morning — even though many of the competitors in the Western Regional are reporting early morning catches.
“We didn’t get a bite until 9:30 or 10,” Sittman said, “and we had a limit by noon. We culled four or five times after that.”
The two plan to follow the same strategy Friday, noting that the bass in the area were still biting when they had to leave for the weigh-in. In addition, they spotted one giant bass they estimated at 9 pounds, and they hope to catch before the tournament ends Saturday.
Most of the college competitors caught five-bass limits, but many others are having trouble finding fish long enough to keep, while still others are losing their bigger bass to line breaks. The average size of the bass weighed in is 2 pounds.
Anglers are 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.
Twenty 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 Friday from Granite Bay Activity Center in Granite Bay at 5:50 a.m. PT. Anglers will weigh in at the Activity Center at 2:15 p.m. PT. On Saturday, competitors will weigh in on the Bassmaster Elite Series stage in Sacramento at Discovery Park.
Watch the tournament unfold at Bassmaster.com.