Mark Hugus and Cody Hahner of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point took the first-round lead Friday in the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwestern Regional Championship on Lake of the Ozarks and never looked back. The pair claimed the win Saturday with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 13 ounces and a comfortable 5-pound, 9-ounce winning margin.
The runner-up team of Cody Lincoln and Jason Hawksford, also of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, ended the tournament with a total of 27-4.
Although the Top 14 teams earned the right to move on to the Carhartt College Series National Championship, qualifying was never the focus for Hugus and Hahner.
“We came here to win,” said Hahner. “We finished second at our tournament last weekend, and that hurt.”
When Hugus and Hahner hit the water for practice at the Missouri lake, their main focus was finding big bass. The bigger bites were spaced out during practice so the duo searched for different fishing areas during the competition days, as well. They also concentrated on a few areas where they had previously caught multiple fish.
“We basically looked for transition banks in pockets,” said Hugus. These “transition banks” consisted of larger rock turning to chunk rock. There, Hugus and Hahner fished MegaBass 110 jerkbaits to trigger bites from prespawn bass that were moving toward more shallow water.
Their win can be credited to covering water and not letting lost fish demoralize them. On Friday, Hugus and Hahner lost a 3-pounder and another bass weighing more than 5 pounds early in the morning. Knowing that their main window of opportunity would come later in the day as the water warmed up, they were able to shake off the lost fish and focus on the next bite.
Day 2 began much the same way with Hugus losing the team’s second keeper bite of the morning, a solid 4-pounder.
“We just kept our heads down and kept fishing,” said Hugus.
That mindset paid off as Hugus and Hahner hit a flurry around noon when they boated most of their 13-3 catch on Saturday during a 30-minute span.
Lincoln and Hawksford, who finished in second, also held the second-place position on Day 1.
Kansas State University’s Quinn Fowler and Dylan McKee finished third with 26-3.
Ryan Gilbert and Jacob Cllisch of the University of Wisconsin-Plattville caught the Carhartt Big Bass for the event, a 7-1 largemouth that Gilbert weighed in on Friday. The prize was a $500 Carhartt gift card.
Hugus and Hahner took the Livingston Lures Leader Award of a $500 gift card with a two-day total of 32-13. The two also won the Bass Pro Nitro Big Bag award with their first-day catch of 19-10 and received a $250 Bass Pro Shops gift card.
The Top 14 teams advance to the Carhartt College Series National Championship to be held later this year.
Image courtesy Shaye Baker/Bassmaster