Nick Barr of Lacey and Jarred Walker of Moses Lake, representing Eastern Washington University, won the 50-team FLW College Fishing Western Conference event Jan. 19 in California.
Fishing on Lake Oroville, the two landed five bass weighing 9 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Western Conference Invitational tournament.
“We put together a game plan and tried out a few different things until we found something that worked,” said Barr, a business-marketing major. “We didn’t end up catching a single fish until about 10 o’clock. Jarred and I haven’t fished for months. Our lakes in Washington are frozen over. I haven’t touched a rod until last week when we were getting our gear ready.”
It was the first time the pair had fished Lake Oroville, at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas north of Sacramento and a 15-hour drive from home.
“Our first fish came on a Yamamoto Hula grub,” said Walker, a construction management major. “We ran around and caught another fish on a drop-shot Senko. Within the last hour, we caught three in a row on the drop-shot. Later in the day, the fish had started to come up shallower, and we were catching them in about 15 to 25 feet of water.
“It was slow and brutal fishing,” Barr said. “We literally let the Senko sit for over a minute.”
Another key was using a light line to detect the light bites from the wary fish.
The Eastern Washington duo also had to deal with pressure at the weigh in. They spent almost an hour on the stage as another 45 teams weighed in. The drama increased when a team from University of California-Santa Cruz also brought in five bass that weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
Under tournament rules, the tie breaker is when teams registered.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. to register all of our teams the first minute it opened,” Barr said.
“It feels great to finally win one of these after traveling so far and putting so much effort in,” Barr said. “I am just happy for our whole team. We brought three teams for the first time and all of them caught fish. It was both team’s first ever tournament. That was my main objective in coming down here, the win is just gravy.”
The other Eastern Washington teams were Cy Floyd of Wenatchee and Mackenzi Brunner of Cheney (five bass, 6 pounds, 12 ounces) and Jarid Gabbert of Spokane Valley and Tyler Wasiilewski of Cheney (two bass, 2 pounds, 4 ounces).
The FLW college regional championship will be this fall at Clear Lake in California. The top 15 teams from the three qualifying tournaments earn a berth. The top 10 at the regional championship will earn an invitation to the 2014 National Championship.
The Eastern Washington University Sportsman’s Club was founded three years ago by Barr. The club now has more than 60 members. Students and faculty of all skill levels can join in numerous activities, including fishing tournaments, hunting trips, archery, community service, hunter’s safety and rod building.