Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson
Last weekend I competed in the first FLW College Central division qualifier on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The field was limited to 50 college teams from the Midwest. It was a tough tournament to say the least! It took four fish, totaling 12.14 pounds, for Missouri University of Science and Tech’s team to take the win. To be in the top 15, which qualifies you for the Central Invitational in July, you needed 4.07 pounds. Unfortunately my partner and I tied for 26th because we were not able to find any keeper bass that measured at least 15 inches.
Tournament waters go off limits the Monday before the event; so in order to prepare, we fished the waters during a long weekend prior to the event and had a lot of success. The weather was in the 50’s with water temps in the high 30’s to low 40’s in some spots. On Friday, we spent most of our time fishing secondary points with jerk baits. Later in the day I caught our biggest fish with a ghost colored, size 10, X-Rap on a brush pile in about five feet of water. This made us think that the fish may have been shallower than we expected. On Saturday, we started to key in more on this pattern. We were able to catch a limit of keepers fishing pea gravel banks around brush piles and docks. We were a little surprised to have found so many keepers on these banks because they are normally where the fish will go to spawn, but the water temps seemed too cold for that. There was a down pour all morning on Sunday, but we fished for a few hours before we had to head back home in order to make it to our classes on Monday. Even with the rain, we were able to catch three keepers in about four hours on new pea gravel banks so we were feeling pretty confident in our pattern by the time we left the lake.
The weather leading up to the tournament was consistently in the high 60s and even reached 83 on Friday. We figured that the sunshine meant that the brush piles and banks we had found successful during the previous weekend would still be productive. A cold front blew in on Saturday, bringing the temps down to 40 and dropping, but I was still super excited when we got to the ramp; full of optimism that we would be able to have a good day on the water. We started the day at 7:30am—hitting all the spots in which we had previously caught fish. But we soon found that we were not getting bites in these locations. We only caught two short fish out of eight key spots. We threw the same X-Rap that had worked so well in the past, as well as jigs and flutter worms around the key brush piles with no luck. After we determined that our key pattern did not stick through the week, we made a change to some steeper chunk rock banks where we had graphed huge schools of shad. We were able to catch five short fish off of these banks but could never connect with anything over 15 inches.
Unfortunately, we ended the tournament with an empty bag. But we’re looking forward to the next qualifier on May 4th at Pickwick Lake in Alabama. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on our progress!
Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing).