It was a springtime cold front for the record books, one that brought hail and severe thunderstorms on Friday, followed up by a blue norther that would have felt right at home in late December or early January.
The problem was, last Friday evening’s cold front was in April, on the eve of the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake Texoma, a two-day tourney originally scheduled to take place on April 7-8 out of Highport Marina.
After tournament officials took a look at the 25-plus mile per hour winds that would be howling straight out of the north — with gusts much higher — they wisely scrubbed Day One of the event last Saturday when temperatures failed to get out of the 30s. That turned the college derby into a one-day, winner-take-all event last Sunday.
Thanks to a five-bass bag weighing 19 pounds, four ounces, Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University team of Cody Metzger (Wagoner, Okla.) and Blayke Haggard (Gans, Okla.) captured the event for their Riverhawk Bass Club, earning $2,600 in prize money as well as a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
The rest of the Top 10 included: Louisiana Tech University’s Spencer White (Minden, La.) and Greg Herman (Minden, La.) in 2nd (five bass weighing 18-14; $1,000); Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Danielle DuPont (Pueblo, Colo.) and Austin Miles (Pueblo, Colo.) in 3rd (5 / 18-6; $500); University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Jacob Andrews (Monroe, La.) and Luke O’Neal (Madisonville, La.) in 4th (5 / 18-0; $500); University of Arkansas’ Samuel Meaders (Fayetteville, Ark.) and Kyle Jessie (Pearcy, Ark.) in 5th (5 / 17-15; $500); Northeastern State University’s Caleb Gibson (Tahlequah, Okla.) and Tyler Winn (Tahlequah, Okla.) in 6th (5 / 17-14); Southern Arkansas University’s Drake Vines (El Dorado, Ark.) and Reed Barham (Hope, Ark.) in 7th (5 / 17-10); Oklahoma State University’s Rhett Meyer (Stilwell, Okla.) and Jake Biram (Tulsa, Okla.) in 8th (5 / 17-4); Tarleton State University’s Hayden Pittman (Bergheim, Texas) and Jarrett Robertson (Kerrville, Texas) in 9th (5 /17-3); and University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Hunter Freeman (Monroe, La.) and Wesley Banks (Calhoun, La.) in 10th (5 / 17-1).
Teams of local interest here in the Red River Valley included Dallas Baptist University’s Ryan Nevil and Nathan Wood in 11th (five bass weighing 16-10); Dallas Baptist University’s Reid Strobl and Ryan Wood in 16th (5 / 15-15); East Central University’s Keltyn Hendrix and Wyatt Ryan in 22nd (5 / 15-3); Dallas Baptist University’s Trent Newman and Cole Trotter in 27th (5 /13-15); East Central University’s Blake Rauch and Cain Brinlee in 39th (5 / 12-13); Dallas Baptist University’s Trace Greer and Jake Soto in 70th (2 / 4-14); Texas A&M-Commerce’s Jolten Andree and Michael Wallace in 74th (1 / 3-6); Texas A&M-Commerce’s Remy Schenk and Mason Ray in 75th (1 / 3-3); and Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Kyle Wood and Peyton Stevens in 76th (1 / 3-3).
In winning the 91-boat tournament, Metzger and Haggard outlasted the dying breeze and chilly weather on Sunday after a rare April freeze in the Red River Valley. Focusing on Texoma’s spunky smallmouth bass, the pair of anglers targeted main-lake points on the 89,000-acre two-state reservoir, most within five to eight-miles of the launch ramp.
“We were wearing short sleeves in practice, but the temperature dropped to 32 degrees the morning of the tournament,” said Metzger, a senior majoring in criminal justice, according to an FLW news release. “We knew that fishing for largemouth was going to be tough (in the freezing weather), so we decided to target the smallmouth.”
His angling partner said they also used the wind to their advantage.
“We focused on the points where the wind was blowing the hardest, fishing the mid to southeastern areas of the lake,” said Haggard, a sophomore majoring in cellular and molecular biology. “We had five or six points that we rotated through that all looked very similar, fishing in four to 10-feet (of water).”
The two Riverhawk club members noted that a citrus shad Bandit 200 crankbait and a prototype Bandit squarebill crankbait proved to be the day’s most productive lures as they boated 10 to 12 keepers.
“I think our timing was really key,” Metzger said in the news release. “The key was finding the right spots and then sticking it out to find a couple of good bites. A couple of people were fishing next to us, but they weren’t staying long enough. It had to be at the right time.”
Haggard agreed, noting that the pair of NSU anglers had great execution on their game plan throughout the day.
“I caught a four-pounder early, then three casts later, Cody put a 3 1/2-pounder in the boat,” he said. “Those early fish clued us in that we were doing the right thing. It also helped that we didn’t lose any fish, all day.”
Hosted by the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce, the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Texoma is the second of three regular season qualifying tournaments for Southern Conference anglers during 2018.
For more information, visit the FLW website at www.flwfishing.com.