BEMIDJI, Minn. — Jake Lee and Jacob Foutz of Bryan College not only held the top spot, but extended their lead at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Bemidji. They caught a two-day total of 34 pounds, 10 ounces of bass and hold a 4-13 lead over their nearest pursuer.
After coming to the scales on Thursday with only four fish, Lee and Foutz knew if they managed to get five bites that they would have the quality to back up their performance on the first day. Instead of coming up one fish short of their five-bass limit, they filled it and managed to accumulate their daily total of 18-4 before 10:45 a.m.
“We knew yesterday that today would be a better day because of the conditions,” Lee said. “Our area was blown out as soon as the day started on Thursday, so with hardly any wind today, we knew it would be fine.”
Lee and Foutz managed to find an area away from crowds of other anglers and where bass were willing to cooperate. They are the only team in the Top 12 that isn’t fishing the Stump Lake region of this fishery.
“The first two hours of practice we fished this area and caught three 4-pounders,” Foutz said. “We never caught another bass after that. We knew we were going to live or die in this area so that’s what we’ve done.”
The duo played it safe after catching 18 pounds by returning to the ramp at 11 a.m. and never moving until they weighed their fish at 2:30 p.m. It may be an unorthodox approach to preventing a disaster, but with a limit like that they knew there was no reason to risk it.
Chasing the Bryan College teammates are Cole Floyd and Carter McNeil of Bethel University. They moved from third place into the runner-up position and did so by staying consistent. With 14-12 on Thursday and 15-1 today, they are in the hunt.
“We opted to start on a spot we found later in the day on Thursday,” Floyd said. “We had four big ones within the first 45 minutes. We left and went to Stump Lake to fill our limit.”
They have relied on numerous tactics to catch their 10 bass this week and they chalked up their pattern as strictly “junk fishing.” The strategy propelled them to second place.
The local favorites from Bemidji State University, brothers Thor and Mitch Swanson dropped to third place, and they felt fortunate to have filled their limit. At 11:30 a.m. they only had two bass in their livewell and weren’t sure if it would be enough to make the Top 12. Instead they are in the thick of the battle and are 7-3 behind the leaders.
Bethel University boasts another team in the Top 4 with Garrett Enders and Cody Huff moving from 12th into fourth. Tyler Firebaugh and Chad Sweitzer of Chico State sit in fifth, Josh Worth of Colorado Mesa University is in sixth, Hunter McCarty and Sloan Pennington of the University of North Alabama are in seventh, Brian Pahl and John Garrett of Bethel University are in eighth, Patrick Walters and Tyler All of the University of South Carolina are in ninth, John Duarte and Chesley Alford of Coastal Carolina University are 10th, Sam Carris and John Berry of Tennessee Tech University are 11th and Tyler Craig and Spencer Lambert of the University of Louisiana-Monroe took the final spot and will leave the dock in 12th on Saturday.
Not only are these 12 teams battling for a National Championship title on Saturday, but the Top 4 teams will advance to a bracketed competition for a single spot in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods as well as entry into all nine Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens next year.
Lee and Foutz of Bryan College brought the big bag of the tournament to the scales on Friday with their five-bass limit weighing 18-4.
Logan Laprarie and Aaron Belgard still hold the top spot for the big bass of the event because of their 6-6 giant from Thursday.
The Top 12 will take off from Paul Bunyan Park at 6 a.m. CT. Weigh-in will take place at the park at 2:30 p.m.
The event is hosted by Bemidji State University and Visit Bemidji.