The College Rookies take on their first National Championship

After spending a week at Chautauqua Lake in New York for an FLW Northern Qualifier we didn’t even need to fish due to sealing our FLW National Championship birth at the Potomac River, Jacob Miller and I drove our rigs home. Only to swap tackle into his Ranger and F250 at midnight and continue the drive early in the morning to our very first Bassmaster College National Championship presented by Carhartt.

Being rookies in the collegiate series, we are the under dogs. And personally, we can both tell you we hate that! After dedicating our lives to this sport, getting our butts kicked by the local Ohio sticks, and spending every dollar we earn to get us where we are now at, we believe in our capabilities and mental mind set that we can compete with anyone here. By no means are we being cocky, but if you come into any event like this with your tail tucked, you better believe you will get steam rolled by the future elite series pros in this tournament. The most important thing Ohio has taught us is to have a positive mental mind set. You guys all know what I’m saying, not every lake in Ohio do you go sack up 20lbs and catch 40 fish a day. Ohio has taught us to be patient, trust yourself and your instinct, and to not give a dang who’s fishing in front of you.

With that being said, we want to make a statement and bring a big ole W home to the Buckeye state. Practice went well. It is an absolute grind, but we found winning fish, without a doubt. We’ve caught virtually every fish on a 5xd, 6xd, and an 8xd. Our fish are currently relating to ledges and any irregularities within them. We have basically scanned the entire lake only to find nearly the entire population of bass to be suspended from half an hour after sunrise to half an hour before sunset. With that being said, it’s a pure grind once that 100°+ Kentucky heat pours all over ya. The kind of heat where you brand yourself when you simply touch a piece of metal or pick up a reel you haven’t thrown in an hour. So what are we doing once that heat hits and the fish become inactive? We continue grinding our ledges. Due to a few very key bites this week, we’ve learned that some of these smallmouth will hunt in “wolf packs” and move up once or twice a day for just minutes to feed on these schools of gizzard shad. We have yet to boat a smallmouth under 3.5lbs and our smallest largemouth comes in at 3lbs while we have got the right school to push out a 5.75 pound meat head in the correct time of day.

In a tournament where dock talk is saying 6-8lbs could put you in the 12 cut and 14lbs a day will seal this thing up, you better believe these rookies are feeling the pressure. As I finish this blog up in my bed, all the emotions pour in. I’m finally to the stage I have given up so much for. And I have 110% trust that my partner is feeling the same way in the room next to me. It’s way more than just going for a win at this point. It’s about setting a statement for Ohio anglers in general and taking our next step to competing in the Bassmaster Classic.

Wish your Buckeyes some luck!
Thanks to all for your time,
-Kyle Waller