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Wednesday, September 27th
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Mizzou Bass Fishing Club Team Qualifies For The 2104 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Nationals

On March 27th, 2014, college students from across the Midwest began arriving at Lake of the Ozarks to compete in the March 28-29 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwestern Regional bass fishing tournament. Of the 87 teams entered in the competition representing 32 different schools, only 14 of them would advance to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Nationals scheduled for July 31 – August 2.

Bassing Bob is thrilled that one of the teams qualifying for the 2014 national competition is from the University of Missouri’s Bass Fishing Club.  Ben Verhoef, the club’s president, and his fishing partner Tommy Hebson finished the two-day tournament in 6th place.

The club entered a total of five boats/teams in the tournament. Ten of the club’s 23 members were able to participate in the competition. Verhoef, who grew up fishing at Lake of the Ozarks, played a big role in determining the team’s strategy.

“We decided four of our boats would fish the Glaize, and one would fish the midlake section of the main channel,” said Ben. “Tommy and I were the team that would fish the main channel, hanging between mile markers 16-22. The day before the tournament, I have to admit we were really scrambling to find a pattern. We hoped to find fish in some predictable jerkbait locations, but they just weren’t there. We finally settled on a strategy that would have us fishing some of our favorite spawning pockets first thing in the morning but by the time we got out on the lake that day, other boats were already sitting on those pockets. We finally found an open spawning pocket on a chunk rock/pea gravel transition. Since it was still early in the day, we decided to throw a jerkbait. Right away, Tommy caught a 3 lb keeper. Twenty minutes later, he hooked a 5 lb bass but unfortunately, just as I was getting ready to net the fish, it spit out the Megabass jerkbait.

 Ben and Tommy then decided it was time to fish a Dirk’s Jig – Coldwater Killer, a new lure available only at Fitz Fishing Tackle & Supplies in Osage Beach. This small finesse jig has already made quite a splash with Lake of the Ozarks anglers, quickly becoming a favorite because of its unique profile. The two students had some success fishing this jig and ended Day 1 with four keepers that put them in 9th place.

On Day 2, Ben and Tommy felt they’d established a useful pattern. “Every bite I got was by skipping a Dirk’s Jig with a craw trailer behind docks,” said Ben. “Over the years, my mentor Wayne Fitzpatrick had drilled into my head how important it is to know how to skip a jig into hard-to-reach places around docks. Tommy and I went out looking for docks on steep transition banks leading into spawning pockets and set our minds to casting back behind those docks. Sure enough, every dock we found that fit this pattern held a keeper right where the walkway met the dock.”

 By 3:30 p.m., Ben and Tommy had three keepers in their boat but couldn’t find any more docks that fit this pattern. They knew they needed at least one big fish to qualify so they quickly discussed the possibility of running to a spot in Pogue Hollow, a cove near the 17 MM of the main channel, which they knew held some big fish. The problem? It was 3:30 p.m., Pogue Hollow was 4-5 miles away from where they were at the time, and they had be back at PB2 by 4 p.m. (PB2, or Public Beach # 2, is in the Grand Glaize Arm which meets the main channel at the 19 MM.) They decided they had nothing to lose, so they fired up the motor and headed to Pogue Hollow.


At 3:46 p.m., Ben and Tommy pulled up to their destination, a spawning pocket on a secondary point with a little bit of chunk rock. Tommy threw a Wiggle Wart up onto the chunk rock bank and Ben threw a jig. On Tommy’s first cast, he hooked a 4.5 lb bass. They got the fish into the boat as quickly as they could so Tommy could cast again, and on the very next cast, Tommy landed a 3.5 lb bass. That was all they needed to call it a day, so they raced to the weigh-in station, arriving with just two minutes to spare. Their gamble paid off with a 6th place finish and the opportunity to advance to Nationals.

As a sponsor of the Mizzou Bass Fishing Club, Bassing Bob is very excited that the club will have a team representing them in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Nationals. Best of luck to Ben Verhoef and Tommy Hebson!


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