The Bethel University team of Cody Ross, Dewey Swims, Zach Parker, and Matthew Roberts set the bar high on Day One of the ACA Collegiate Bass Fishing Open and never looked back. Anchored by Cody Ross’ 10.44 pound brute on the first day of competition, the Bethel Wildcats proved they know a thing or two about Kentucky Lake. They backed up their day one catch with another six fish limit totaling 21.36 pounds on Saturday, giving them a total of 52.78 lbs. and more than enough for a victory.
Local knowledge and teamwork were the key to their win and their efforts resulted in over $2,000 in cash and prizes, including Cabela’s gift cards, cash, and new Temple Fork Outfitters rods for all four winning teammates.
According to Dewey Swims, “We all fish here a lot and we know the lake well, but our communication was important in this event. We were staying in touch with each other sharing information and truly working as a team and that made the difference.”
All the Bethel anglers used a variety of tactics to stay with the fish throughout the event. They caught bass, including the Big Bass of the event, flipping shoreline cover on day one, but as that bite faded, they worked together and made the necessary adjustments to stay on the fish.
Jacob Hardy added, “We knew the falling water would pull our shallow fish back to staging areas, so we started keying in on areas next to spawning flats. Rattle traps around those flats with grass on them ended up being the key in finishing strong.”
It is a good thing the Bethel Wildcats finished strong, because the other local team, the Murray State Racers, was working hard to take the title of Open Champs back to Murray, Kentucky.
Teamwork was obvious, as fellow Wildcat teammates, Jacob Hardy, Jake Lawrence, Randall Morris, and Dalton Wilson came within a pound and a half of victory, with a two day total of 51.33 lbs. Their catch was good for approximately $1,300 in cash and prizes from ACA and their partners, including Cabela’s and Temple Fork Outfitters.
Ultimately the Murray State team of Cody Santel, Justin Berger, Justin Graben, and Vincent Campisano fell just short, but finished in a respectable third place with a total of 46.24 lbs.
Teamwork is the whole concept behind the ACA Collegiate Bass Fishing Open, and like Bethel, it was a big part of the Racers’ success.
Justin Graben of Murray State summed it up best, “The key to our success was collaboration. It took all four to figure out the pattern and once we did we all worked it together to catch these fish. It has been a great event for us.”
The Racers also took home new Temple Fork Outfitters rods, along with $400 cash for their catch.
Fourth place, Tennessee Tech University, put together the best rally of the event, weighing the largest limit of the second day at 24.83 lbs. making for a total combined catch of 45.16 lbs. The team consisted of two boats and four anglers, Matt Townson, Will Stansell, Bryson Dalton, and Joe Ellis.
According to Joe, there were some missed opportunity that hurt the Golden Eagles, including some large fish that broke off during the tournament, but their second day rebound helped with the disappointment.
Matt Townson went on to add, “Our team keyed in on an Alabama Rig bite late on day one and we let our partners know about it. We started the second day on those fish and we camped on them together all day Saturday. It was exciting to be catching fish and doing it all in sight of each other, it kept both of our boats fired up all day and we had a blast.”
The top five was rounded out by the two-time BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Champions, the North Carolina State Bass Pack. The Bass Pack saw their weights fall nearly 10 pounds between their day one catch of 27.46 lbs and their day two catch of 17.53 lbs., but collectively their 44.99 lbs was enough for a solid finish.
Despite not taking home another title the Bass Pack was thrilled with their time in Paris, Tennessee. According to President, Paul Owens, “This has been an unbelievable week on Kentucky Lake. We’ve never caught as many fish as we have since we arrived. This has to be the most awesome fishery we’ve been on since I’ve fished with NC State. I’ll be back just to fish, that’s for sure.”
Full results of the event can be found here.
Image courtesy Cabela's