NSU wins Wild Card

DURANT, Okla. — John Ledet and Justin Cooper talked all week about how timing was everything for the success of their fishing strategy on Lake Murray.

Today the anglers representing Northwestern State University showed up again, on the right place at the right time. In doing so they won the Carhartt College Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops.

After taking the Day 2 lead the team from Natchitoches, La., sealed the win by catching a 5-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce. Added to their cumulative score the university’s bass fishing team caught an impressive 51-7 for the win.

J.P. Kimbrough and Jared Rascoe, fishing for LSU Shreveport, took second place with 46-11. Aaron Belgard and Logan Laprarie, another team from Northwestern State, came in third place with 46-8.

“The timing was really the key,” said Ledet, 21, a senior majoring in business management with a marketing emphasis. “When the wind picked up we needed to be on our best spot.”

That area, spanning just 10 acres, attracted bass to a bed of submerged hydrilla growing within 3 feet of the surface. The bass weren’t alone.

“In our livewell we had regurgitated bluegill the bass had eaten,” added Cooper, 22, a senior majoring in biology with a biomedical focus.

Put together the food source and habitat combined to sustain a successful strategy over three days. In fact, the spot got better each day.

Northwestern State started the tournament in sixth place with 15-12. On Day 2 the team caught 17-10 and today capped the win with the catch weighing 18-1.

“It got better today because there was more wind,” said Cooper.

More wind and overcast skies stimulated baitfish activity and the predator instinct of the bass.

A V&M Pacemaker Lightning Blade, chartreuse in color to match the hue of the bluegill, was the key lure. The leadhead jig and spinner combination produced strikes as the lure was ripped through the vegetation.

Seclusion was another key to the win.

“We had the place to ourselves and that was a big deal,” said Ledet. “There were boats all around us but the fishing pressure never really affected us.”

Indeed that was key. Lake Murray spans 5,700 acres and with 80 teams competing the fishing pressured mounted by end of the tournament.

Under calm conditions the team alternated between a V&M Chopstick, a soft plastic stick bait, and a V&M J Bug jig. The anglers fished both lures in reeds and aquatic grass growing near the shoreline.

Bass fishing teams from more than 40 colleges and universities from throughout the nation competed in the tournament on Lake Murray. On Day 3 the top 20 teams competed for 13 available berths in the collegiate bass fishing championship.

That event is the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. The tournament is July 28-30 in Campbellsville, Ky., on Green River Lake.

Teams earned contingency awards from tournament sponsors. Northwestern State University, led by Cooper and Ledet, won the Livingston Lures Leader Award and $250 in merchandise for leading the tournament on Day 2.

Texas State University won the Nitro Big Bag Award after catching the heaviest single day weight. On Day 2 Sam Stone and Evan Coleman caught a limit weighing 19-3 to win a $250 gift card from Bass Pro Shops.

Hunter Loudon of Bethel University caught a largemouth weighing 8-7 to win the Carhartt Big Bass Award and a $500 gift card.