BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops heads this week to La Crosse, Wis., for its Midwestern Regional bass tournament to be held Thursday through Saturday on the Mississippi River.
The fishery is only a 2 1/2-hour drive from another Wisconsin fishery — Lake DuBay at Stevens Point — which will host the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship in mid-July. Consequently, top college anglers from across the Midwest have a little extra motivation as they fish in La Crosse this week. The Top 10 will have their tickets punched to compete in the championship July 9-11.
Success in the Midwestern Regional will favor the students who have done their homework. Most, no doubt, have studied Tommy Biffle’s winning strategies in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament in 2013 on this stretch of the Mississippi River. Biffle won the event by fishing primarily for smallmouth bass. Though the tournament was three weeks later on the calendar, the smallmouth pattern is something that 2014 Midwestern Regional champions Cody Hahner and Mark Hugus think will be important again this year.
“The river will fish relatively the same,” Hahner said. “If you can find smallmouth, you’re likely to win.”
Though smallmouth bass are typically heavy enough to provide the winning edge, Hahner cautions that the fish can be hard to locate and catch. Largemouth are much more abundant in the Mississippi River open to the competition.
“You can catch a lot of fish right now by flipping,” Hahner suggested. Where aquatic vegetation can be found, anglers are likely to find plenty of fishing action by working hollow-body frog lures. “It’s pretty much shallow fishing 101 right now,” he added.
Both Hugus and Hahner are seniors and are particularly motivated to get back to the National Championship this year since it will be held hosted by their university — the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
For those who don’t make the championship cut on the Mississippi River, one chance remains to qualify: the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card, which is being held in conjunction with BASSfest June 3-5 out of Paris, Tenn. Anglers who competed in, but failed to qualify through, their regionals are invited to compete on Lake Barkley in the Wild Card. The last remaining spots for the championship will be filled at this event.
This week’s Midwestern Regional will include daily launches at Veterans Freedom Park at 5:30 a.m. CT and weigh-ins at the same location at 1:45 p.m. CT.
This event is hosted by the LaCrosse Convention and Visitors Bureau.