Eighty-seven college teams from 32 schools will descend upon Lake of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo. for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwestern Regional, March 28-29.
For the first time in eight years, B.A.S.S. is returning to the 55,000-acre reservoir that ranked 31st on the 2013 Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list. Traditionally held in summer, the Midwestern Regional makes a two-month jump into changing water conditions and a potential prespawn pattern.
“It’s snowing up here right now,” said Scott Sullivan, a senior at the University of Central Missouri. “It’s supposed to warm, but this past weekend has been pretty slow.
“A lot of people underestimate this water body, but the lake is so big it will be hard to fish. I suspect fish will be moving up into the shallows, and if the water temperature stays stable, it will take 20 to 25 pounds a day to win it.”
The college competitors are vying for cash prizes and contingencies from Carhartt, Bass Pro Shops, Power-Pole, Nitro/Tracker and Triton Gold.
They are also fighting for a chance to fish in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship.
“Placing in the Top 15 in the tournament gives your team an automatic berth in the National Championship and puts these college anglers one step closer to earning a bid to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic,” said Hank Weldon, college tournament manager.
Along with the four schools that call Missouri home, the 2013 Midwestern champions will be defending their title on Lake of the Ozarks.
“I have never fished Lake of the Ozarks,” said Eric Logisz, of the Milwaukee School of Engineering, who with teammate Marshall Sandretto won the Midwestern Regional in 2013. “I think there’s more pressure on us because we won last year, and we’re expected to do well. But, maybe we’ll be a little more comfortable because we know what to expect.”
Because record flooding on the Mississippi River forced a move to a much smaller playing field last year — Lake Sugema — expectations are high for Lake of the Ozarks.
“This year we’re definitely fishing this lake, and it fishes really good this time of year,” Weldon said. “And with the increase in the number of teams competing, it’s going to be an incredible tournament.”
Image courtesy Shaye Baker/ Bassmaster