DOVER, Tenn. — McKendree University admittedly is playing its strengths on Lake Barkley and the strategy is proving beneficial at the Carhartt College Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops.
Leading the tournament with 15 pounds, 14 ounces, is the team of Jordan Ledbetter and Trent Robinson. Less than one pound behind in second place are fellow students Phillip Germaglioti and Shane Campbell, also of McKendree University.
“Fishing ledges is not our strength so we are staying focused on shallow water,” said Campbell.
Fishing around sharply contoured river channel dropoffs is the norm here during summer. On fisheries frequented by the leaders deep-water fishing is a rarity. What is more common is fishing shallower water. The university is located in Illinois, near the Mississippi River and St. Louis.
The pattern for the leaders literally came together on the final cast of yesterday’s closing practice round. After landing a largemouth weighing 4 pounds the team decided to make the spot their first of the competition day.
“We didn’t have a specific area better than any other,” said Ledbetter. “So we decided to start there.”
The day also ended in the same area with persistence paying off.
“We’d go 150 yards and not catching anything at all and then run into a quality bite,” added Robinson. “We caught all seven of our keepers there.”
Keeping up with the minimum length limit for this tournament is a must. A keeper largemouth must measure 15 inches. The minimum length limit for smallmouth is 18 inches and 12 inches for spotted bass.
Germagliotti and Campbell admitted finding a new twist to their strategy. They understandably declined to share details.
“What we discovered should help us improve our catch for tomorrow,” said Campbell.
Lake Barkley, a Cumberland River fishery, is located adjacent to the equally as sprawling Kentucky Lake. That Tennessee River impoundment is site of another marquee event. Top pros are competing Zippo BASSfest at Kentucky Lake presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps.
The goal here is a last chance to qualify for the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. The championship is July 9-11 at Lake DuBay on the Wisconsin River. The top 20 teams from the Wild Card are invited to compete at the championship.
On Friday the top 20 collegiate teams weigh in at the BASSfest venue and take the same stage as the pros. Tomorrow the collegiate anglers launch and weigh-in at Lick Creek Recreation Area in Dover.
An online feed of the live weigh-in, angler blog entries, photo galleries and more are available at Bassmaster.com.