St. Cloud leads at Midwest Super Regional

St. Cloud State University and West Virginia University are 1,000 miles apart- yet only 4 ounces separated the two colleges from the lead at the Carhartt College Series Midwest Super Regional.

St. Cloud’s Eric Tessmer and Korey Sybrant have the edge after catching 15 pounds, 11 ounces. Close behind in second place is West Virginia’s Edward Rule III with 15-7.

Even those teams can’t rest going into tomorrow’s final round on the upper Mississippi River. In third place with 15-5 is the team of Cade Laufenberg and Sam Schoolmeier of Winona State University. And you can’t count out the 15-3 catch of Ryan Dunn and Gage Elder of Southern Illinois University. They hold fourth place in the collegiate contest of schools from throughout the Midwest and elsewhere.

The 14 colleges and universities sent teams to test their skills on river pools 7 and 8. Most found success after 20 of the 28 teams caught a 5-bass limit. In fact, some of the two-angler teams reported catching more than 20 bass during the day.

For some the fishing was even better. St. Cloud’s Tessmer and Sybrant had their limit after 45 minutes of fishing time. West Virginia’s Rude had the same luck. He also left his area at 10 a.m. to save it for tomorrow.

“To be honest I had no idea what I was looking for when I got here,” said Rude, of his first trip to the river. “I just started eliminating big water and narrowed it down to one area.”

That area is like a roulette wheel. Rude hopes he makes the right spin of the wheel tomorrow when he arrives shortly after daybreak.

“I’m fishing a school of shad that are concentrated in one area,” he added. “The bass are on them, following them around. They are feeding well enough that there’s no reason for them to leave.”

“The fish I’m catching are really, really fat because they are feeding on those shad,” he added. “When I caught the 4 1/2-pounder there were two more following it up to the boat. Those fish were the same size.”

The bass was a valuable catch for Rude. Tomorrow the angler with the largest fish earns the Carhartt Big Bass Award and with it, $500 worth of Carhartt merchandise.

Tessmer and Sybrant found their post-spawn fish in a shallow area off the river.

“Our plan is to go back tomorrow and hopefully improve on what we learned today,” said Sybrant, who three years ago founded the university bass club.

“We continued to upgrade throughout the day, ounce by ounce,” added Tessmer. We got stuck on the 2-pounders and need to put a good kicker into the livewell tomorrow.”

The productive fishing is due in part to the stage of the river. Currently the water level is higher than normal from runoff due to recent rainfall across the upper Midwest.

The influx of water has flooded otherwise dry land and supercharged the food chain with nutrients. That’s why baitfish, like those found by Rude, are plentiful in the shallow areas. Those areas, many of which are filled with blooming aquatic vegetation, are providing ambush areas for predators like bass.

The collegiate event sanctioned by B.A.S.S. and its Bassmaster Tournament Trail has two goals for the anglers. First, school bragging rights to the overall winner’s trophy are on the line for the 14 universities in the competition. Next, berths are on the line for the Carhartt College Series National Championship. From there, the top angler earns the collegiate champion berth at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.

The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwest Super Regional concludes tomorrow on Mississippi River pools 7 and 8. Teams launch at 5:30 a.m. with return times beginning at 2 p.m. The Best Western Plus Riverfront Docks is the site for the launch and weigh-in.