LEESBURG, Fla. — Seth Jenkins and T.J. McKenzie of Emmanuel College knew exactly what they wanted to do and they proved their point by sacking up
LEESBURG, Fla. — Seth Jenkins and T.J. McKenzie of Emmanuel College knew exactly what they wanted to do and they proved their point by sacking up a 31-pound limit to lead Day 1 of the Strike King Bassmaster College Series at Harris Chain presented by Bass Pro Shops.
The leaders, who won another college event on the Harris Chain Jan. 10, split their time between two lakes, where they targeted prespawn bass and caught all of their fish offshore over shellbeds in 6 to 10 feet of water. Two key spots produced all of their weight, which included a 7-1 that briefly tied for the day’s big bass lead.
“We left our rods (in the truck) and idled for 16 hours in practice to find those spots,” Jenkins said. “We spent the first half of the day in the lake where we won two weeks ago.
“We worked really hard trying to find some similar stuff in practice this week — and halfway through the day, we moved to that and rounded up to 31.”
Notably, the anglers had 21 1/2 pounds when they left the first lake at 11:30 a.m. Their day started with a bang, as their biggest fish bit at 8.
Reaching their goal of breaking 30 less than an hour after moving to the second lake, Jenkins and McKenzie left their main pattern and spent the rest of their time scouting for Day 2.
“After we culled up to 31, we knew we didn’t want to beat up our stuff anymore,” McKenzie said. “We didn’t idle around that (second lake) anymore because we had idled the whole thing. We just bounced around to some stuff that we had prior knowledge of.”
Jenkins said their pattern commitment extended to their bait selection, as they caught all of their fish on one soft-plastic presentation.
“We both threw the same bait,” McKenzie said. “Later throughout the day, we switched it up and tried some different colors, but it ended up being the same bait.”
Jenkins noted that their success hinged on excruciatingly slow retrieves.
“We probably fished the bait for a minute and a half; slow dragging everything,” Jenkins said. “It had to be slow; they would not eat any reaction baits. I tried throwing a big swimbait, but I couldn’t get them to eat that.”
Also enjoying early success, Matthew Cummings and Levi Mullins of Bethel University are in second place with a limit of 26-12. They caught their fish by targeting grass edges and making long casts with reaction baits.
The first team to weigh in, they arrived shortly after the scales opened at 2:10 p.m., which was one hour prior to the first flight’s official check-in time. Mullins said they had their weight by about 11:30.
“We had a pretty good bag and one of them wasn’t doing too well, so we wanted to come in early instead of (risking a dead-fish penalty),” Cummings said.
Hayden Gaddis and Ben Cully of Carson-Newman University lead the big fish standings with an 8-7.
The tournament will conclude Saturday, with takeoff scheduled for 7:10 a.m. ET from Venetian Gardens. The weigh-in will be held back at Venetian Gardens at 3:10 p.m.