Kyle Oliver and Hunter McKamey of the University of Central Florida brought in 18 pounds, 15 ounces of bass to lead after Day 1 of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional on Lake Okeechobee. What many had hoped would be a slugfest for big bass deteriorated into a game of survival when weather turned unseasonably cold in southern Florida.
Records still were set, however, as the largest field in Carhartt Bassmaster College Series history hit the water Friday for the Southern Regional. A total of 130 two-angler teams braved air temperatures in the 40s, which shut down the moving bait bite that many college teams found during practice, when the mercury hovered in the 80s.
In general, the teams that found a flipping bite prevailed on Day 1, though the leaders were on a different pattern.
“We saw a lot of people flipping during practice, so we decided to change it up and try a little different tactic,” said McKamey. “The fish seemed to like it today, so we’re going to try it again tomorrow.”
The cold front that rolled through the night before the tournament brought a drastic drop in air temperatures and 25 mile per hour winds out of the north. This combination dropped water temps and wrecked many places that anglers were counting on fishing during Friday’s opening round. That was not the case for UCF.
“We pulled up to our first spot and were kind of hesitant because of the cold front and the windy conditions,” said McKamey. “But we were surprised that the water was clear and in good condition, so we stuck with it.”
The UCF anglers proceeded to catch a five-bass limit weighing 18-15 in the first 3 hours of the day, capping that stretch off with a 5-pounder, their biggest fish of the day. They decided to leave the area, saving it for Saturday’s final round. They were unable to catch bass any bigger than the smallest in their livewell elsewhere.
Sitting in second after Day 1 and only 2 ounces behind the leaders is the team of Charles Conger and Demetrius Thomas of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College with 18-13. Third place belongs to Bo Larkins and Brian Rosso of the University of Georgia with 18-10.
The Carhartt Big Bass of the day was caught by John B Davis and Payton McGinnis of the University of Alabama who brought in an Okeechobee giant weighing 8-7.
Day 2 begins at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday at Scott C. Driver Park, 10100 Hwy. 78 W., Okeechobee, FL 34974 with on-the-water coverage on Bassmaster.com throughout the day, including a live weigh-in starting at 3 p.m. ET.