FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. — Lealand Johnson and Drew Grow of the University of Alabama lead the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional after Day 1 with 16-7 including the Carhartt Big Bass weighing 7-15.
The Southern Regional on the St. Johns started a little slow for many teams. Although most reported more bites on Day 1 than they found during practice, getting the fish into the boat seemed to be a problem for many anglers.
The 7-15 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Johnson was the biggest bass weighed in on Day 1 by 2 pounds. The near 8-pounder may be a sign of things to come. There’s a full moon approaching that will hit on the final day of this tournament, Jan. 5, and that could bring loads of big St. Johns River females to the bank.
“I was almost to the point of quitting when that big fish bit,” Johnson said. “It’s been a long week with everything that’s happened to us, so we were pretty beat down.”
That long week consisted of a blown trailer hub on the way down, then the top cap came loose from the hull of their boat on Wednesday, and they had to drive to Panama City Wednesday night to borrow a boat from Johnson’s friend. When they got back to Palm Coast at 6 a.m. Friday they went straight back out on the water to practice all day and finally got a little sleep last night. So when the big one bit, they could feel their luck changing.
“We were lucky to get her in,” Johnson said. “I switched to braid about 30 minutes before that, and she wrapped me up in a bunch of stuff. Once we caught that big fish, everything turned around and the momentum changed for us.”
As for now, the Bass Pro Shops Nitro Big Bag award of 16-7 caught by Johnson and Grow of Alabama has the bar set. Four teams are within 2-8 of the lead. Thomas Oltorik III and James Oltorik of Daytona State College sit in second with 15-9 and pose the most immediate threat to the University of Alabama.
Thomas Oltorik finished second in the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional on the Harris Chain with his then partner Scott Heaberlin. Without a kicker in their Day 1 bag and considering their local knowledge of the area, Daytona State stands a good chance of making a move one step up the leader board on Day 2.
Rounding out the Top 5 are Jacob Reome and Matthew Garvin of Clemson University with 14-4, Frankie Appaluccio and Logan Shaddix of the University of Alabama with 14-1, and Landon Tucker and Grant Colson of Valdosta State University with 13-14.
Anglers will launch from Bull Creek Fish Camp at 7 a.m. and weigh-in at 3 p.m ET Sunday and Monday. On the final day, the field will be cut to the Top 20 teams. For more information, please visit Bassmaster.com.
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha
2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Supporting Partners: Dick Cepek Tires, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimano
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The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series presented by Carhartt, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.