RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. — After a difficult practice on a stingy body of water, the team of Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier caught a five-bass limit of 13 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead in the 175-boat field at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Lake Cumberland presented by Bass Pro Shops.
This is the final regular-season stop on the 2020 College Series slate.
“The last day of practice we caught two fish total and fished as hard as we did today, just in a different region of the lake,” Minor said. “It is definitely not easy out there, and we were fortunate to connect with the fish we did today and get them in the boat.
“To do what we did, I’m extremely pleased. I said I would be happy with any five fish today, even if they were 12-inchers.”
Minor and Lanier focused their efforts on a 2-mile stretch of the main lake after keying in a school of fish early in the morning.
They used topwater baits to convince their fish to bite early in the morning. Minor added that he and Lanier are fishing a different way than he is used to but declined to go into specifics.
“We caught our biggest fish, a 2-something largemouth, right off the bat,” Minor said. “Today, we weren’t even sure about catching bass in general. We stayed in a 2-mile stretch and fished it until about noon. The largemouth we were catching was a pattern we found in practice and that all made sense, but Casey caught a random, big smallmouth which really helped us out.”
Minor and Lanier were one of many teams that weighed in a mixed bag of fish Thursday, as largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass were shown off on the weigh-in stage at Halcomb’s Landing.
Gunner Whitaker and Lafe Messer from Kentucky Christian University hold second place after Day 1, collecting a limit of smallmouth that weighed 12-11.
“The day started great. As soon as we sat down we went to catching them,” Messer said. “After we left our second spot it slowed way down. We had a limit in like an hour and only culled twice throughout the day, and towards the end of the day we couldn’t even get bit.”
Messer said they have 15 to 20 spots they feel comfortable with, while one spot is producing most of their bigger bites.
The team of Noah Campbell and Adam Salvador and the Clemson University duo of Sean Clayton and Owen Dimaio are tied for third with 12-8. Campbell said he and Salvador focused on catching smallmouth in a tight section of the main lake.
Meanwhile, Clayton said he and Dimaio are keying in on wood and finding specific spots where wood meets the rock banks.
“We fished the same way in practice,” Clayton said. “It took us 30 minutes to find that pattern, and we went and found something else in practice. We ran Plan A all day long, and it ended up working pretty well.
“We are staying in the same general area, but we have been able to move 5 or 6 miles and do the same thing.”
Tristan McCormick and Stevie Mills of Bethel University earned Carhartt Big Bass of the day honors with a 5-4 largemouth, which helped them to sixth place in the overall standings. If that fish remains the largest caught during the tournament, McCormick and Mills will earn a $500 Carhartt gift card.
The full field will take off from Halcomb’s Landing at 7 a.m. CT Friday, with the weigh-in scheduled for 3 p.m. back at the Landing. After Friday’s weigh-in, only the Top 12 teams will advance to Championship Saturday.
The top 17 teams after Day 2 will punch their ticket to the 2020 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops scheduled for Oct. 29-31 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.