McEwen and Pelt Win Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation College Championship

Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation held its very first State College Championship on Lake Eufaula on February 17, 2018. The weather was a balmy 80 plus degrees, a rather warm day for February. We had some 10-15 mph wind out of the west. Water temperatures that had been below 50 degrees several weeks ago were now 60 to 62 degrees with some claims of 65-degree pockets. This would be the kind of day that would decide which two teams of the fifty-six ABN College teams competing would move on to the B.A.S.S. College Championship this July on Lake Tenkiller, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Auburn University’s team of Logan McEwen and Patrick Pelt took first place. ABN photo

The water was red clay muddy and the Corp of Engineers decided to make it harder on these young anglers by dropping the water level from one foot above normal pool to three feet below normal pool. This drop in water level influenced Auburn University’s team of Logan McEwen and Patrick Pelt’s decision to fish rip rap next to deeper water.

The water was red clay muddy…

Their first stop was at the Hwy 82 bridge to fish the rip rap on its north or up-river side. The first fish came off a Strikezone Rumblefish chatterbait with others on a Strikeking yellow 1.5 square-bill crankbait and a Texas rigged Zoom Brushhog. The Auburn Team’s morning started out fast and furious, but then it would be three hours or more before they would get another bite. There was a small pocket the team wanted to fish on the way down to the bridge, but they were unable to because a couple of boats were already fishing it. It was empty on the way back up, so they pulled in and spotted a blow-down by grass point. Logan threw a Texas rigged Brushhog and got hung-up and lost his bait. He had retied and was dipping his Brushhog in some chartreuse dye when Patrick started hollering for him to “get the net”. Logan reached for the net, spilling the dye on his hand. He looked over to see a 7-pound bass hung up in the top of the grass. The 7.24 largemouth caught on a green pumpkin football jig anchored their First-Place weight of 19.22 lbs.

Chatterbait, square-bill and Brushhog winning lures.

Patrick and Logan are excited about representing Auburn University and Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation in the B.A.S.S. College Championship!

It turned out to be a WAR EAGLE type of day, as the Auburn University team of Cole Burdeshaw and Peyton McCord placed second with a weight of 18.53 lbs. Cole and Peyton concentrated on fishing the grass with black and blue swim jigs. Cole said he thought the most important part of their technique was the Hematoma-colored, Big Bite jig trailer. Peyton said they decided to spend most of their time in the clear waters of Sandy Branch and Hardridge Creek. They fished the grass there that was closer to deeper water, but most of their strikes came anywhere from two to four feet in front of the grass. He said, “We lost some good fish that would have made a difference, but I’m very happy that my friends and teammates won.”

Central Alabama Community College’s team of Weston Hollar and Landon Tidwell landed only two fish, one which weighted 8.24 lbs. ABN photo

If you catch only two fish in a bass tournament, they need to be BIG! Central Alabama Community College’s team of Weston Hollar and Landon Tidwell landed only two fish, one which weighted 8.24 lbs. Weston said they were both shaken that morning after losing at least four fish over 3 lbs. in the grass. Later on that day, the clouds parted and their day became much brighter when Landon punched through some matted grass in two feet of water. He used a black and blue Zoom Speed Craw anchored with a 1.5 oz. tungsten weight to land the BIG FISH of the tournament. For that, the team was awarded the Headland National Bank, First Bank $500 for the big bass.

The Third-Place team of Brady Bowden and Tyler Pennington of Faulkner University spent two days of practice fishing the grass with jigs. Because the water had dropped, they decided to fish a more vertical presentation around rip rap close to creek bridges. They thought the creek bridges and the rip rap provided a staging area for pre-spawned bass. Their first stop was the bridge and rip rap in White Oak Creek. They used a red H2O square-billed crankbait and a chatter bait on the rip rap. Tyler said repetitive casting at targets parallel to the rip rap was the key to catching fish. Their weight of 18.06 lbs. was anchored by a 4.60 bass caught in Pataula Creek off a dock close to the rip rap.

Congratulations to all our college anglers that participated. Hope to see you sometime in the future!

One of the things that impressed me about this tournament was the large number of anglers that I have watched come up through the Junior and High School programs. Cole, Peyton and Tyler all fished B.A.S.S. Nation High School, as well as twenty or more college anglers that fished in this tournament. This speaks well for The Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School Program.

I would like to thank all our sponsors, The City of Eufaula, Eufaula Barbour County Chamber, Mayor Tibbs, Lakepoint State Park, the Eufaula High School Fishing Team, and especially all the volunteers that gave their time to make this happen.

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