Kyle Oliver and Hunter McKamey of the University of Central Florida overcame an unexpected cold front to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 39-12. The duo held on to a Day 1 lead and brought 20 pounds, 13 ounces of bass to the scales on Saturday to clinch the win.
In practice, the record field of 130 college teams enjoyed clear skies and 80-degree weather, but frigid temperatures the night before competition changed the bass bite and the anglers’ plans. On Friday, winds at 25 miles per hour prevented half the field from reaching the spots they found productive in practice, but those conditions, including the 40-degree temperatures, actually helped the UCF winners.
Fishing a vast pad field with Zoom Speed Worms and Gambler Burner Worms, Oliver and McKamey caught fish that were preparing to spawn, as well as bass moving out of the spanwing areas due to the cold.
“The weather benefited us more than anybody else,” said McKamey. “We saw that everybody was flipping in our area in practice. We tried flipping but didn’t catch much.”
The UCF Knights decided to use moving baits instead. After catching a 2-pounder and a 3-pounder in the area by reeling worms, they left the spot to save it for Day 1 of competition.
“The spot we were fishing had pre-spawn fish coming in, and the cold weather made the fish that were in the reeds come out,” said Oliver. “So all those fish merged in our spot. We probably caught 30 fish today and 40 fish yesterday.”
Jake Gipson and Charlie Hurst of the University of Alabama brought in the biggest bag of the event on Saturday, weighing 24-15 and moving into second place. Their biggest bass, an 8-7 lunker, tied fellow Crimson Tide anglers John B Davis and Payton McGinnis, who brought in a bass of the same size on Friday. The two teams tied for the Carhartt Big Bass award.
Kyle Smith and Shelby Concon of the University of Florida finished in third place with a two-day total of 35-15.
The Top 18 teams qualify for the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held this summer. For more information, visit Bassmaster.com.
2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Quantum, Yamaha
2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Supporting Partners: Booyah, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, MotorGuide, Plano, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival
Image courtesy Shaye Baker/Bassmaster