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Posted By The Bass Hog

LUFKIN, Texas--It’s not like Brandon Palaniuk had never won a Bassmaster Elite Series event. Coming into this week, the 29-year-old pro from Idaho had already claimed Elite Series trophies in 2012 and 2013 and came close to raising that win total with three other second-place finishes.

But for an intense competitor known as the “prodigy,” the four-year victory drought was an itch he desperately needed to scratch — and he did it during this week’s Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Palaniuk caught 24 pounds, 7 ounces of bass during Wednesday’s opening round and followed with 23-2 and 24-7 the next two rounds. Then he caught he caught 21-12 on Championship Sunday to push his four-day total to 93-12 and hold off a late charge by California pro Brent Ehrler.

Ehrler, who led the first two days, finished second with 91-12.

“I never found a school in practice where I could just go and pound on them and catch multiple fish in one spot,” said Palaniuk, who earned a $100,000 first-place prize and an automatic berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented DICK’S Sporting Goods. “It wasn’t until the tournament started to roll around that more and more fish started to transition out and school up on spots.

It was a sign of things to come for Palaniuk when he started Wednesday’s opening round with his biggest fish of the tournament — a largemouth that weighed 8-4. Palaniuk caught the bass in deeper water than what was being fished by most of the field.

That gave him the confidence to stay away from the shallower areas that were holding incredible numbers of bass, but not necessarily the size it would take to win.

“I was torn between deep and shallow,” he said. “There were so many fish shallow, and you could get so many bites, but I just wasn’t getting the big fish that I needed. I just kept telling myself the big fish were out deep, and if I could stick it out and get five to 10 bites a day, I could have a chance to win.”

Palaniuk said he spent a lot of time idling around looking for the usual summer postspawn hot spots, like the tips of points, humps and ledges.

He found lots of smaller fish on those places. But while moving from spot to spot on straight banks, he found a several brushpiles on his Humminbird electronics with incredible numbers of crappie and one or two bigger dots that he believed were bass. In that situation, he used a Neko Rig with a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm — and immediately caught a big fish.

“I knew that if I was hooking 8- or 9-pounders in brushpiles on that lighter line, there was a chance I was going to lose some,” he said. “Those fish are so strong, and that stuff is so thick. And it wasn’t like I was fishing the outsides of it. I was throwing directly into it and trying to get it to drop directly down into the center where the fish were.”

Palaniuk’s key bait for shallower, more aggressive fish was the size 13 Storm Arashi Top Walker in the pro blue color pattern. For deeper fish — since he couldn’t get bass to bite a crankbait — his top two lures were a 10-inch Zoom Ol’ monster worm in the plum color pattern with 1/2-ounce VMC tungsten weight pegged with a VMC stop on a 5/0 heavy-duty VMC extra-wide gap hook, and a Neko Rig Zoom with a green pumpkin magnum trick worm on a 1/0 weedless Neko hook that will debut at the annual ICAST fishing industry trade show in July.

Though Ehrler finished 2 pounds away from his first Elite Series victory, he didn’t go home emptyhanded. For catching the Toyota Big Bass of the week — a 9-1 largemouth on the first day — he earned a $50,000 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--The national championship location and dates for the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops have been decided and released, B.A.S.S. announced today.

The championship will be held on Minnesota’s famed Lake Bemidji, and connected fisheries in Bemidji, Minn., Aug. 10-12. The event is hosted by Bemidji State University (BSU) and Visit Bemidji.

“Visit Bemidji is excited to partner with B.A.S.S. and BSU in development of the 2017 Bassmaster College Series National Championship,” said Susan Goudge, executive director for Visit Bemidji. “The event will be second-to-none with our university campus being located on the shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji.”

Goudge said the scenic lakes and local amenities provide an ideal venue for the nation’s top college anglers.

“Lake Bemidji and area lakes are naturally connected to multiple waterways that include the Mississippi River,” she said. “Bemidji, First City on the Mississippi, looks forward to welcoming the fishing teams, families and B.A.S.S. staff to our beautiful community. And, we’d like to wish the best of luck to all the young anglers.”

“Bemidji State University is proud to join with regional and industry partners as host of this high-caliber competition,” said Mike Mulry, director of engagement marketing at BSU. “We will seize the opportunity to showcase our lakeside campus as an ideal destination for competitive fishermen and all students who love the outdoors.”

To qualify for the national championship, College anglers compete in one of five regionals, and in a Wild Card qualifier for a second chance to reach the championship.

B.A.S.S. also announced that the Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops will be held June 8-10 on Lay Lake in Shelby County, Ala.

After three days of championship competition in Minnesota, the best team will be crowned College Series national champions.

From there, the Top 4 teams will advance to the College Bracket, at a location to be later announced, Aug. 14-16. At that point, individual anglers will then vie for a single berth to the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The Classic will be held March 16-18 in Greenville, S.C., with fishing competition taking place on Lake Hartwell out of Anderson, S.C.

For more information, please visit

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —The Shell Rotella brand of heavy-duty diesel engine oils has signed on as a premier sponsor of B.A.S.S. and 2017 Bassmaster tournament circuits, B.A.S.S. announced today.

The agreement includes the most prestigious bass tournament circuits in the nation, including the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series, the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan, the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops and the Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

“Shell Rotella is very excited about the expanded association with B.A.S.S. and the opportunity to work closely with an organization that is committed to bass fishing and outdoor recreation,” said David Waterman, North America marketing manager for Shell Rotella. “Our relationship with B.A.S.S. and bass fishing fans has grown over the past few years and we look forward to our expanded role as a premier sponsor through TV, onsite events and Shell Rotella activations.”

“In addition to being a great partner over the last two years, Shell Rotella was a tremendous help in making our recent Bassmaster Classic in Houston — in their hometown — such a huge success,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “We’re so pleased to have Shell Rotella, which is noted for its high quality heavy duty diesel engine oils, as our newest premier sponsor. Their support for the sport of bass fishing demonstrates their commitment to outdoor recreation.”

Also part of the deal are sponsorship of the “Garage” studio of The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2 and title sponsorship of the Shell Rotella Bassmaster Get Hooked On Fishing presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors conducted during the recent Bassmaster Classic in Houston.

Shell Rotella will also be able to participate in activation programs at Elite Series and other events through its popular Rotella Road Show trailer and the Rotella T6 BBQ Grill. The interactive design of the Shell Rotella Road Show trailer includes a number of interesting displays starting with how engine oil protects your engine. A demonstration area shows how engine oils may affect fuel efficiency, wear protection, engine cleanliness and prevent acid corrosion. Engine parts show examples of how low viscosity CK-4 and FA-4 prototype engine oils protected against engine wear.

The Rotella T6 BBQ Grill proved to be a fan-favorite addition to Elite Series events in 2016, when Shell Rotella was a supporting sponsor. The 20-foot barbecue trailer includes a grill and a smoker, and cooking is done by the Shell Rotella BBQ team. The Shell Rotella-sponsored world champion cooking team has won more than 30 barbecue and cooking awards.

As a service to fishing fans, information about upcoming Bassmaster events will be posted on Facebook (@ShellRotella), Twitter (@ShellRotella) and Instagram (@ShellRotellaT).

About Shell ROTELLA® Heavy Duty Engine Oil The Shell ROTELLA® brand is committed to making sure that hard working individuals can count on Shell ROTELLA® engine oils to help keep their trucks and equipment operating properly. The Shell ROTELLA® heavy duty engine oil product portfolio is led by three premium heavy duty engine oils that are part of a tiered, easy to understand ladder of protection. They include Shell ROTELLA® T6 Full Synthetic, Shell ROTELLA® T5 Synthetic Blend Technology and Shell ROTELLA® T Triple Protection® Heavy Duty Engine Oils. Shell ROTELLA® is the No. 1 heavy-duty motor oil brand preferred and used among owner operator truck drivers.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

May 3, 2017-- BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —At just 20 years old, Brendan Baker of Jefferson City, Mo., has been given an opportunity that many B.A.S.S. fans dream of — a chance to fish with defending Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.

The biggest catch, he only entered the “Bassmaster Fish With Gerald Swindle Sweepstakes” once! Talk about luck of the draw.

“This cannot be real!” Baker exclaimed after learning he was the lucky winner. “I was literally in shock and couldn’t believe I just won my very own bass boat.”

Baker is an avid bass fisherman who attends Missouri State University. He fell in love with fishing at a young age, thanks to the time his father and grandfather spent teaching him all about the sport. He enjoys fishing local bodies of water with his 12-year-old brother, Connor, and he says they spend at least five days a week on the water in the summer.

Baker will take a trip to a to-be-determined location to fish with Swindle. The trip includes airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodations and $500 in spending money.

In addition to the fishing trip with Swindle, Baker received a Triton 17 TX bass boat with Mercury 60-horsepower 4-stroke engine, Humminbird Helix 12 fishfinder, Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor, a set of four KMC or XD wheels and one set of Odyssey Marine batteries. He also won prize packs from T-H Marine, Zoom Baits, Sunline, Dude Wipes, Rod Glove and War Eagle, plus a GoPro Hero5, Huk All Weather jacket and bib, Quantum Smoke HD baitcast combo, Rigid deck light kit, and Swindle’s Toyota Bassmaster Elite Series jersey, autographed by “the G-man” himself. His total winnings were $32,500.

When asked if he was nervous about fishing with one of the most well-known pros in the sport, Baker said, “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous to fish with Gerald, I’m just excited for the opportunity and extremely blessed. I can’t wait to learn some tips from a pro angler.”

Fans will have another shot at winning soon, when the Ultimate Tundra Giveaway Sweepstakes kicks off on May 15.

The grand prize will include a Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab 4X4 as well as an additional accessories package. The total value of this prize is $44,511.

Fishing fans can enter daily until Friday, Sept. 15, at

Courtesy of BASS Communications

Posted By The Bass Hog

LUFKIN, Texas —Sam Rayburn Reservoir is on a very short list of the all-time best fisheries to host a major bass tournament. Not surprisingly, more professional Bassmaster tournaments have been held on the 111,400-acre impoundment in east Texas — 31 — than on any other fishery in the United States.

Beginning with the 1968 All-American won by Bill Dance and continuing through more recent victories by current stars like Rick Clunn, Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers and Shaw Grigsby, the events have thrilled and entertained fishing fans for nearly five decades.

But none, it is safe to say, have offered bass fishing fans the wealth of things to see and do and experience that will be available at the upcoming Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), to be held May 17-21.

That’s not surprising, since Texas Fest is the result of a merger of the fan-friendly Bassmaster BASSfest Elite Series tournaments of recent years and the uniquely formatted Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC), conducted on Texas lakes for the past 10 years.

“We’re excited to develop Texas Fest into one of the biggest events in competitive fishing while featuring the great work Texas Parks & Wildlife Department does to ensure the quality of outdoor recreation for the future,” said Brent Hillyer, vice president/Marketing for Gulf States Toyota, which created and sponsored TTBC from the beginning.

“Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will combine the best features of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and our own BASSfest tournament — both of which had become immensely popular among anglers and fishing fans,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Texas Fest will host a special Fan Appreciation Day offering anglers and their families opportunities to meet, greet and learn from the world’s best professional anglers.”

And, borrowing a page from TTBC, the event will feature a catch-weigh-release format. Anglers’ catches will be weighed on identical scales by judges assigned to each boat. Immediately after being weighed, the fish will be released back into the lake. The Top 5 weights will be counted in each competitor’s daily catch, and the pros will bring in their largest bass, if 21 inches or longer, to the weigh-in stage at the George H. Henderson Jr. Expo Center in Lufkin each afternoon.

With a $1 million payout available to the 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros, including $100,000 to the winner and a $50,000 Toyota Tundra truck to the angler who catches the heaviest bass of the week — along with an automatic entry into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods — competition can be expected to be fierce.

In addition to its CastingKids course, Toyota is offering an experience geared to adults: the Toyota Ride and Drive obstacle course, open to qualified drivers 18 and over. Fishing families in the market for a new bass rig can take part in demo boat rides provided by Skeeter, Yamaha, Nitro, Triton and Mercury at Cassels-Boykin Park. Free shuttle transportation is provided between the Expo Center and the park.

Also on Saturday of Texas Fest, the most exclusive high school bass tournament will be held on a nearby body of water. To qualify, students have to be named one of the 12 members of the 2017 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. In addition to being honored as one of the most outstanding student anglers in the nation, the All-Americans will get to participate in a one-day fun-fishing tournament as the teammate of one of the Elite anglers.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

RIDGELAND, Miss.--Due to unsafe weather conditions, the final round of the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett has been postponed until Monday, May 1.

Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director, announced the decision after extended communication with the National Weather Service of Jackson, Miss.

“After discussing the threat of severe weather with the National Weather Service, and with the safety of our anglers as our top concern, we felt postponing the final day was the best decision,” Weldon said. “These storms contain significant lightning among other severe weather factors, and it's not worth the risk.”

According to the National Weather Service, the storms are predicted to arrive by 9 a.m. and continue through the afternoon. They currently contain significant lightning, also “damaging wind gusts, hail and a few tornadoes will be possible.”

Dustin Connell of Alabama owns a comfortable lead of 5 pounds, 6 ounces over his nearest competitor, Keith Poche, also of Alabama. The event began Thursday with 109 Elite anglers, but only the Top 12 compete in the championship round.

Those 12 anglers will resume competition on Monday, May 1, at 6 a.m. CT, and will launch from Madison Landing. The weigh-in will begin at 2 p.m. CT at Old Trace Park.

The tournament is hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

RIDGELAND, Miss.--For the second day in a row, Alabama native Dustin Connell is leading the fourth Bassmaster Elite Series event of his life. The 26-year-old rookie is closing in on his first victory and the $100,000 first-place prize at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett.

The weather forecast for Ridgeland, Miss., is predicting strong thunderstorms and heavy rain for Championship Sunday, which could impact whether the tournament concludes on schedule or gets postponed until Monday.

Connell’s pattern produced 15 pounds, 7 ounces of largemouth bass for a three-day total of 51-14, which is just over 6 pounds ahead of second place.

“I’m fishing up in the Pearl River,” Connell said. “And if we get heavy rain, the potential flood waters could wash out my spots. If that happens, I may have to revert to plan B and pick up a frog. I’m hoping we’ll dodge a bullet and be able to fish on Sunday.”

Connell mentioned that he’s so confident in his fishing spots that if the weather holds off, he believes he can win.

“I’m trying to not focus on the what if’s right now, rather I’m focusing on what I need to do tomorrow to win, provided we get to fish,” he said. “I have been flipping 35 to 40 spots with lots of vegetation this week. The water in that part of the river is starting to stabilize, and fishing seems to be getting better. If we can avoid the rain, I think I could catch the biggest limit of my week.”

The young angler said he caught 12 or 13 fish during the day, and he missed several big bites that could have added to his lead.

“I’m happy to have a 6-pound lead, which on this lake will go a long way,” he said. “If the weather does hit, a 6-pound cushion will play to my advantage. At the very least, it’ll help me sleep tonight.”

Another Alabamian is also in contention for the win. Keith Poche caught 15-6 on Saturday’s semi-final round, pushing his total to 46-8.

“I really don’t know how this is going to end up,” Poche said. “The forecasted weather is a huge variable. I know I’m around some big fish, maybe even the winning fish, but several inches of rain will definitely change things — and if it does I will be starting over.”

Rounding out the Top 12: Kevin VanDam (46-6), Jonathon VanDam (45-15), Brent Chapman (44-13), Mark Menendez (44-13), Fred Roumbanis (44-12), Matt Herren (44-4), Ish Monroe (44-2), Dave Lefebre (44-1), Bobby Lane (43-10) and Skeet Reese (42-11).

Lester remains in the lead for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award thanks to the 7-2 largemouth bass he caught during Thursday’s opening round.

Due to impending weather conditions for Ridgeland, Miss., Bassmaster tournament officials are in regular communication with the National Weather Service. They will make a decision about the final round of competition Saturday evening or early Sunday morning.

According to Bassmaster Elite Series rules, if Championship Sunday is canceled, the tournament will resume on Monday with a projected 6 a.m. CT takeoff and a final weigh-in at 2 p.m.

Connell won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Friday’s second day of competition.

The event is hosted by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan will be held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, Oct. 19-21, B.A.S.S. announced today.

Competitors from all over the world will compete for a chance to return to Lake Hartwell next March for the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

“We are excited to be going to Anderson, S.C., and Lake Hartwell for the Championship,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director. “It is a great fishery, and Green Pond Landing is a fantastic launch and weigh-in area.

“The city and state did a great job renovating the ramp area for the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic a few years ago, and they have improved it even more since then. We are expecting the weather and the fishing to be excellent that time of year.”

Forty-seven states and one Canadian province (Ontario) will send 20-person teams (10 boaters and 10 nonboaters) to one of three regional tournaments — Central, Western and Eastern. The top boater and nonboater from each state will then advance to the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Hartwell.  

Also invited to the Championship are the top boater and nonboater from nine other foreign countries (which have their own qualifying events), the Paralyzed Veterans of America champion and the defending B.A.S.S. Nation champion.

“We are so proud of the opportunity to host the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Green Pond Landing and Lake Hartwell,” said Neil Paul, Visit Anderson’s executive director. “In Anderson County, we take great pride in being able to host anglers from all over the country in our community, and the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship is yet another opportunity to host a championship event in our championship facility on our championship lake.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be able to host the great team from B.A.S.S. in Anderson County, and we cannot wait to welcome the anglers and their families to our great community.”

The champion will receive a Bassmaster Elite Series berth, paid entry into the division of their choice in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, a prize boat to keep, plus a “B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best” prize package, which is a fully rigged tournament-ready boat for one year.

Second- and third-place finishers will earn paid entry into their division of choice in the Bassmaster Opens, and the “B.A.S.S. Nation’s Best” prize package, which is also the use of a fully rigged tournament-ready boat for one year.

The nonboater champion will win a memorial trophy, paid Bassmaster Opens entry to his or her division of choice, a prize boat and a Bassmaster Classic Marshal spot.

In 2016, Ryan Lavigne of Gonzales, La., won the tournament as an unlikely candidate — a nonboater — and won it by an enormous margin of 16 1/2 pounds on Lake Conroe outside of Houston, Texas. He also earned a chance to compete in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, which was held March 24-26, 2017, also on Lake Conroe, in which he finished 16th among 52 of the world’s best bass anglers.

The Western Regional will be April 19-21 on Lake Shasta, California, with the final qualifying tournament, the Eastern Regional, to be held June 14-16 on Upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

Competing in the Eastern Regional for a berth in the Championship will be a few new female faces, including Angela Mayo, who was crowned the first female non-boater champion in the North Carolina Western qualifier.

Last year, Becca Golightly became the first female angler to compete in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

HOUSTON — The 47th world championship of bass fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is less than a week away. With larger venues and expected turnouts, new this year, B.A.S.S. has partnered with local organizations in Houston to bring a unique activity for kids to the event.

The Shell Bassmaster Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors will be held outside at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event will host nearly 1,000 students from the Houston Independent School District and will feature activities and experiences supported by several local companies and organizations, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Conservation Association, Shell, Academy Sports + Outdoors and the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority.

B.A.S.S. has been working with the HCHSA for over a year to bring this program to life and take advantage of Houston’s size and amazing diversity. It is a great opportunity to reach out to a culturally diverse group of young people who may not get the chance to fish because of their location or lack of exposure to the sport.

“After taking our Casting Kids program to Central Park in New York City a few years ago and seeing the reaction of urban youth to fishing, we recognized that this would be a unique opportunity for kids in the Houston area,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.  

“We appreciate our local supporters who stepped up to sponsor buses to bring these school kids down to the GRB on Friday and look forward to more youth from the Houston area coming out over the weekend. We believe if young people can have a positive encounter with fishing in their youth, they are more likely to become good stewards of our fisheries and aquatic resources as adults.”

Activities at the event will include kids casting instruction, the dogs on the dock jumping dogs, and a kids fishing pond. The TPWD, with support from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, will also feature its Take Me Fishing/Vamos A Pescar Interpretive Trailer and Challenge, where students will learn about common Texas fish species and how to be a safe and ethical angler. The challenge is a small group activity requiring kids to answer basic fish and wildlife questions by seeking out the answers in and around the trailer. The challenge is offered in both English and Spanish, and encourages teamwork and exploration. TPWD will also promote their  Fishing Tackle Loaner program that allows students to checkout rods and reels, much like a library book, removing one of the most common barriers to fishing participation.

“A Houstonian’s civic pride is a badge they wear with honor, but to see it in action is truly what it’s all about,” said Chris Massey, HCHSA director of events. “We saw just that as we encouraged our city to support the Get Hooked On Fishing initiative through community partnerships, and boy did they step up in a big way. Through their financial contributions we are able to sponsor 900 Houston Independent School District students to come out and get hooked on fishing!”

Additionally, Shell and the Coastal Conservation Association will be partnering on-site to promote conservation ethics and education among young anglers through the award-winning CCA Rising Tide youth outreach and education program.

Other activities include Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jacob Wheeler on-site signing autographs and special giveaways from Academy Sports + Outdoors for the first 1,000 children each day.

Akin also credited Bruce D. Oakley, Danilo Juvane, Laqrence Catuzzi, Callier & Garza, LLP, J. Kent Friedman, Hilltop Securities, Inc., Timber Creek Environmental, LLP and Manson B. Johnson for their help.

Courtesy of BASS Communications 

Posted By The Bass Hog

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Jacob Louis and JT Russell of McKendree University jumped from third place on the final day today to take the championship title of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwest Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake of the Ozarks with a three-day total of 61 pounds of bass.

After holding the lead on Wednesday’s opening round of competition and losing it on Thursday, the Bearcat duo produced a 22-11 limit to regain the top spot. Louis and Russell stuck to their game plan, even with the declining weather and temperatures, and they were able to boat four fish in the first few hours of fishing today.

They had found a promising area loaded with baitfish as their practice session ended earlier in the week and decided to start the tournament there Wednesday. It paid big dividends as they caught 22-10 on Wednesday to take an early lead. They did most of their damage with jerkbaits and swimbaits in the shad-filled pocket. Fish were schooling at the surface, making it possible to follow the pods of bait as they roamed around the pocket.

That night a massive rain and hailstorm cooled off the water temperatures and stained parts of the lake. Their Thursday weight suffered as a result and they dropped to third after catching 15-11, but were in striking range of the lead. They made the trip to their magic area on the final day, but they knew right away that it would be tougher to stay all day.

“We didn’t see much shad activity, and with the temperatures in the low 40s they just weren’t grouped up like early in the week,” Louis said.

After landing four bass, which included a 4- and a 5-pounder, their spot dried up and they had to scramble. The pair made their way back toward Osage Beach and finished their limit with a 5 pounder and, later, a 6 that enabled them to cull a smaller fish.

They won by 4 pounds, 10 ounces over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Louie Dazzo and Collin Cropp who stayed in second place from start to finish this week at Lake of the Ozarks. After having weights of 19-12 and 21-3, the duo only managed 15-7 and stayed put on the standings in the runner-up position with a total weight of 56-6.

Dazzo and Cropp also found success with a jerkbait this week as well as a crankbait. It showed as they boated plenty of keepers on the final day, but they lacked the size they had caught on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We definitely had a slower morning than prior days, but we kept adjusting spots, and we started catching them,” Dazzo and Cropp said. “We saw some other teams catch some big ones in our same areas, but they seemed to be positioned deeper than we were so I’d have to believe the quality bass just moved slightly deeper.”

Jacob Harris and Tyler Smith of Southeast Missouri State University jumped from 12th place on Thursday into third after the final weigh-in because of their huge final day. Harris and Smith notched 23-9 on Friday, which claimed the Nitro Big Bag of the tournament and it was anchored by a 7-13 Big Bass. They finished with a three-day total of 55-3.

McKendree’s Brock Wilke and Brady Faust caught 22-2 on Friday to move into fourth, and Hunter Mills and Hunter McKinley of Murray State University rounded out the Top 5 after catching 17-14.

The Day 2 leaders, Nic Rand and Keegan Russell of Lake Superior State University only managed one fish on the final day, but it weighed 7-1 and kept them in the Top 10 as they finished ninth. For leading after Day 2, Rand and Russell won the Livingston Lures Leader award.

Hunter Scharphorn and Jake Dorony of Lake Superior State took the final qualifying spot with a three-day total of 41-11. The Top 19 teams will now move on to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which will be held later this summer.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.