The Kansas State University team of Nathan Kozlowski and Lance Maldonado, both of Junction City, Kan., won the FLW College Fishing Central Conference event on Pickwick Lake Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Central Conference Invitational tournament.
“This feels great,” said Maldonado, who is a junior majoring in Management and fishing in his second career FLW College Fishing event. “This is my first year fishing for the Kansas State team. I transferred here because I knew that Nathan was coming here and we wanted to fish together for the Wildcats.
“We’ve grown up together and been fishing with each other since we were five or six years old,” Maldonado continued. “Not many people can say that they’ve been fishing with the same guy for that long. This was pretty special.”
The Kansas State Wildcat team used their experience and the strong Tennessee River current to their advantage. They targeted boulders and breaks in the current where the fish were waiting to ambush the bait.
“We were fishing community holes,” Maldonado continued. “Downstream from the dam to Seven-Mile Island. We would locate the big boulders on the shore, and that told us that there were more close by. We fished slow and worked our baits differently, and I think that was the key for us.”
Kozlowski, a junior majoring in Finance, estimated that they caught 30 to 40 fish throughout the day, but only 10 keepers. He said that they caught fish on multiple presentations, including a Zara Spook, a buzzbait, 5-inch swimbaits and black and blue-colored Jewel Baits jigs.
“It really turned on for us between 9 and 10 a.m.,” Kozlowski said. “We were just popping our jigs off of the rocks and fishing them differently than everyone else.”
The duo weighed in a mixed bag of bass of three smallmouth, one spotted bass and one largemouth. Maldonado gave a large amount of credit to his partner Kozlowski, who was able to pre-fish Pickwick Lake last weekend.
“It was pretty cool weighing in a stringer with three different species,” Maldonado said. “Nathan was able to come down here last weekend and get some practice time in, and he caught 17 or 18 pounds. We felt pretty good confident coming in, and it feels great to get the victory.”
The top 15 teams that advanced to the Central Conference Invitational tournament are:
- 1st: Kansas State University – Nathan Kozlowski and Lance Maldonado, both of Junction City, Kan. (five bass, 17-8, $2,000)
- 2nd: Murray State University – Vincent Campisano, Louisville, Ky., and Cody Santel, Petersburg, Ill. (five bass, 16-14, $1,000)
- 3rd: Georgetown College – John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., and Vincent Timperio, Corbin, Ky. (five bass,16-2, $500)
- 4th: Eastern Kentucky University – Kyle Raymer, Brandenburg, Ky., and John Smith, Harlan, Ky. (five bass, 15-12, $500)
- 5th: Georgetown College – Nick Huff and Mike Huff, both of Georgetown, Ky. (five bass, 14-14, $500)
- 6th: University of Iowa – Keaton Williams, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and John Mercer, Burlington, Iowa (five bass, 14-1)
- 7th: University of Evansville – Nick Uebelhor and Eric Kieffner, both of Jasper, Ind. (five bass, 13-5)
- 8th: Western Kentucky University – Ryan Coleman, Utica, Ky., and Justin Hopkins, Lewisburg, Ky. (five bass, 13-4)
- 9th: Indiana State University – Steve Judson, Terre Haute, Ind., and Zac Niehaus, Brazil, Ind. (four bass, 13-0)
- 10th: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Cody Hahner, Wausau, Wis., and Steve Maliborski, Milwaukee, Wis. (five bass, 12-6)
- 11th: Western Kentucky University – Stephen Compton, Lewisport, Ky., and Jacob Hopkins, Lewisburg, Ky. (five bass, 12-1)
- 12th: Murray State University – Ian Heskett, Murray, Ky., and Shelby Vandergraff, Monon, Ind. (five bass, 11-4)
- 13th: University of Nebraska-Omaha – Brad Koll, Omaha, Neb., and Joseph Pfeifer, Columbus, Neb. (three bass, 11-2)
- 14th: Eastern Kentucky University – Travis Spivey, Trenton, Ohio, and Matt Salmons, Bronston, Ky. (four bass, 10-5)
- 15th: Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville – Brad Lemasters, Springfield, Ill., and Zach Hartnagel, Edwardsville, Ill. (three bass, 8-6)
FLW College Fishing teams compete in four qualifying events in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five conference invitational tournaments. The top ten teams from each conference invitational tournament will advance to the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter and FLW Outdoors provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
The next FLW College Central Conference qualifying tournament is scheduled for June 15 on Kentucky Lake in Benton, Ky.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors