After one day of fishing on Lake Guntersville, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series weight records were in jeopardy. By the end of the weigh-in Saturday, they were completely destroyed.
First, Evan Smith of Arkansas Tech netted a college record 9-pound Guntersville giant to claim the Carhartt Big Bass award. Then, Dewey Swims and Cody Ross from Bethel University ignited a celebration when they scored a two-day catch record of 48 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the South Super Regional.
“It felt great, man,” Ross said, still visibly shaken. “It felt real good to be honest with you. We’re both pretty ecstatic.”
Falling just 1 pound, 8 ounces short of the leaders was the team of Shane Lehew and Adam Waters of UNC-Charlotte with 47-3. Taking third place was another team from Bethel, Dillon McGee and Tanner Ellis, with a 46-3. Rounding out the Top 5 were Kyle Albers and Brad Kimrey of East Carolina with 46-2 and Hunter Shults and David Lambert of Tennessee-Knoxville with 45-12.
Ross and Swims said overcrowding in the area they fished Friday and Saturday morning forced them to rely on a backup spot, a bluff wall they found during practice.
“In the pocket that we fished both days, there was only room for about two boats,” Swims said. “Today, at times, there were up to seven boats in there.” In addition to the College Series, which fielded 116 teams, another major tournament got under way on Guntersville Saturday morning.
The student anglers also had to contend with quickly changing weather patterns: Overcast skies, wind and rain on Day 1 muddied the water Friday. Calm weather Saturday allowed the water to clear, changing locations of the fish.
In both competition rounds, Swims and Ross fished Rat-L-Trap lipless crankbaits around stumps in 4 to 5 feet of water. “We were fishing around a lot of boats, but we were the only ones catching ’em,” Ross said. “We figured out you had to be burning that ’Trap and ripping it as soon as you got in the grass — they’d just kill it.”
For runners-up Lehew and Waters, it was yet another tale of heartbreak. Last year, the pair finished third at the South Super Regional on the Alabama River. They had hoped Guntersville would give them the opportunity to get over the hump.
“You always want to get the win if you can,” Waters said. “That’s what we came down here to do, but second’s not bad either.”
The next event in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series will be the East Super Regional, April 13-14, on Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County, Va.