San Antonio, TX (November 7, 2023) – The second event of the 2023-24 season on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series was contested at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, AR. Close to 240 of college fishing’s top teams competed for two days with peak fall fishing conditions on this Arkansas River fishery. Over 450 of the top college anglers from across the nation competed for two days, bringing in quality limits and big bass. In this write-up, we will break down the gear and baits that the top teams in the final standings used to catch their fish.
Wyatt Pearman and Ridge Rutledge from Top 25 ranked Campbellsville University won the event with a two-day total weight of 28.13 pounds. The pair entered the final day of tournament competition in second-place and managed to weigh-in five fish for 13.41 pounds to best second place by more than 1.50 pounds. Pearman and Rutledge utilized a combination of spinnerbaits and soft plastics to catch the winning fish.
Here is a breakdown of the gear they used for each of these setups:
Rod: Dixie Custom Rods 7 Ft. MH
Reel: Shimano Curado MGL
Line: 15 Lb. Seaguar Red Label
Bait: 3/8 Oz. Accent Fishing “River Special” Spinnerbait
Rod: Dixie Custom Rods 7 Ft. 7 In. MH
Reel: Shimano Curado
Line: 20 Lb. Seaguar Red Label
Lake Dardanelle is a vast, sprawling river fishery that offers a variety of backwaters and bayous for anglers to explore to find the winning fish. Pearman & Rutledge found several specific, secluded areas that produced for them on both tournament days. “We were in a backwater looking for clear water with baitfish in the area,” said Pearman. “Focusing on where the current positioned the fish on laydowns and dead heads, with some stumps and bushes mixed in. Any hard cover they could hide in to ambush bait is what we hit.”
On the final day of tournament competition, the Campbellsville University anglers made several key culls that helped them to secure the major victory. By having a set gameplan and staying focused on the task at hand, the duo was able to best the elite field of close to 240 teams. “We played the conditions hour by hour, letting the current set the fish back up and refill in our areas, making milk runs on stretches throughout the day,” concluded Pearman.
Finishing the event in second place were Caden Crutchfield & Micah Sowders from third ranked Murray State University. “The pattern we focused on was slow and very tedious. We caught the majority of our fish hugging bottom structure in roughly 12-18 feet of water,” noted Crutchfield. “We would spend 20-40 minutes making identical casts to a small section of our area before we would catch a keeper. Micah and I made identical casts (about 4 to 5 times) to the exact same spot. Then we would slowly retrieve our lures, ensuring that they remained in contact with the bottom the whole time. We both knew that eventually one of us would hook into a nice one. All that we had to do was stay patient and prepared.”
That patience and persistence paid off to the tune of a second-place finish amongst an elite field of collegiate bass fishing teams. The Murray State anglers weighed in 11.65 pounds on Day 1, which had them tied for 13th. On the final day of tournament competition, the duo weighed in a limit for 14.71 pounds, improving on their Day 1 weight by just over 3.00 pounds.
Here is a look at the gear they used to catch a majority of their fish:
Rod: St. Croix Spinning Rod – 7 Ft. M
Federation Angler Limited Edition Spinning Rod – 7 Ft. MH
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