Over the weekend I participated in the FLW College Fishing Western Regional on Clear Lake representing Humboldt State University. My teammate, Graeme Lock, and I competed against 45 other top college teams in the Western Region. We were able to sack up a two-day weight of 41lbs-10oz to take first place. We netted $4,000 for our club as well as a spot in the National Championships, which will be held next March on Lake Keowee in South Carolina.
Without having a pre-fish or practice day, we knew on Day One of the tournament we were going to have to cover a lot of water to find a good school of fish. We were expecting to face a tough bite as not only are the fish transitioning into their fall patterns, but also there has been a lot of pressure due to the amount of tournaments being help on Clear Lake during the month of October. After covering a lot of water on the south end of the lake, we made a decision to see if there was a school of fish mid-lake in Horseshoe Bend. As soon as I dropped the trolling motor in Horseshoe I started graphing large balls of bait in about 18ft of water and the bass engaging in a feeding frenzy. After trying to entice the bass with a deep-diving crankbait and swimbait with no bites, we decided to go with a finesse approach, as I suspected that the bass had been hit hard with reaction baits from the Everstart Pros throughout the week. We started to drop-shot Margarita Mutilator Roboworms and immediately started catching fish. We quickly filled the boat and started culling fish. The key to the drop-shot was to dead stick the bait and not move it and wait for the fish to swim off with it. We did have a couple of the Top 10 Everstart Pros come in wanting to fish our spot, which told me we were sitting on a good school of fish. I respectfully let them fish the area as they had a lot of money on the line. We ended up weighing a limit of five fish on Day 1 for 21lbs-09oz putting us in 2nd place.
On Day Two the field was narrowed from 45 teams, to the Top 10. Our plan for the day was to head straight to Horseshoe and protect our spot all day. We were pretty confident that the bait would still be there, along with the bass. During the low-light conditions in the early morning the bait was very spread out and the bass were not as active. We tried throwing some topwaters and other reaction baits, but nothing would commit. Once the sun was fully shining the bait became more concentrated and the bass began to feed. We started throwing the drop-shot again and the bite only got better as the day went on. I really gave my Dobyns Champion Extreme 702 Finesse rod a workout. We caught a lot of fish and culled many times throughout the day, working about a 30-40 yard stretch. We ended up with a 20lb-01oz for our five fish on Day Two, putting us in 1st place.
A Story by Derrick Hicks
I graduate in December, so this was a great way to finish the 2013 season. I cannot wait for the National Championships. I must say I am very proud of my teammate Graeme, it was a blast winning this tournament with him. I also want to give a shout out to our other Humboldt State Team of Chris Childers and Erich Coulter who placed 7th in the tournament and will be heading to Nationals with us. I would also like to thank my sponsors for supporting me and college fishing, without their support, none of this could happen: Dobyns Rods, Pure Fishing, The Rod Glove, Monster Fishing Tackle, NuTech Lures, Sinister Wacky Worms and RB BASS.com