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Lake Oroville- Cougars claim victory!

Its Thursday- just two more days until were on Lake Oroville for the 3rd tournament of the season, and already it’s the ONLY thing on my mind… The thought is tearing through my mind faster than a 250 horse Merc at take-off, and just imagining the feeling of a rod in my hand is enough to get my heart pumping. Enthusiasm and excitement are surely in no short supply, and for a bunch of wide-eyed college kids, this is what dreams are made of.

Looking at barely half the drive of our Lake Roosevelt tourney, things were already shaping up to be a great weekend. We opted to take several cars this time, but thanks to the FLW’s travel allowance, it was more of a convenience than anything. By Friday evening, the team reunited in the town of Oroville, ready to rock the crimson and show the world just how Wazzu rolls…

Up and out of our campground cabins at the crack of dawn, our coug-convoy hit the road for a 10 mile run up to the lake. The sight of the stage overlooking the lake was enough to bring a tear to your eye, unfortunately there was no time for that…this meant business. After being matched up with our accompanying pro’s, it was finally fishin’ time.

Lake Oroville is a massive 15500 acre reservoir on the Feather River in north-central California. The reservoir itself is home to dozens of fishing tournaments every year for a reason: it’s loaded with bass. Spotted bass, also called “Spot’s” by many of those who pursue them, are the dominant species here by a long shot. These bass make up an overwhelming 90 to 95% of the bass population, though largemouth and smallmouth also call Oroville home. Smaller on average than their large-mouthed counterparts, Spotted bass are known and prized not only for their numbers, but their sheer tenacity.

Initiated by the splash of our trolling motor into the water, our epic adventure was underway. With seemingly endless water available for us, it was no surprise the only witnesses to our first fish of the day were the desert scrub and red rock banks surrounding us. In no time at all we were bringing fish to the boat- not big fish…but hey, it was a promising start! It didn’t take long at all to realize catching fish wasn’t the issue at all, but catching the BIG fish would be a completely different story…

We put our hours in for sure- covering every point, cove, and tree we saw fit to fish. Quality fish habitat was in no short supply here, and the fishing proved it. Fishing our go-to smallmouth rig (a Carolina-rigged 4” lizard), we were yardin’ em in one after another. Our search for bigger fish continued, but with the seconds ticking away… we found our time had all but expired.

Knowing this was going to come down to the wire, we bagged our catch and headed to the weigh in…sweating bullet weights the whole way. The madness had already begun when we dropped our fish in the waiting tank, and just judging from the tense crowd, we knew this one was going to be close. Weights hit the board, with mere ounces separating each team…talk about a nail biter! Teams took the lead, got knocked off by a couple ounces, only to be overtaken by a few more… In the end, it was 10lbs 9oz that claimed the top spot on the board.

There was just one thing that was different this day, one detail that separated this tournament from the others, setting a new tone for us all… That 10lbs 9oz limit of Spot’s, wasn’t just a nice bag of fish….it was Wazzu’s bag of fish! Thanks to teammates Kyle Wright and Ryan Bernsen, the pride of the crimson and grey was now plastered on the front of a super-sized check for TEN THOUSAND BUCKS. With three Coug teams finishing in the top 15, it was no doubt we made our presence known.

The experience we were given was no doubt priceless to our team, however, it wouldn’t be right to forget who made this all possible for us. FLW outdoors and the National Guard, among many other generous sponsors, were the driving force that made this all possible for us. This along with the help of some more than generous professional fisherman who gave their time to put us on the water, allowed us to gain something incredible that we would never have a chance at on our own…So, with a check, a suntan, and a goldmine of mental wealth later, we packed up our gear and hit the road for home…

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Comment by Keith Brooks on August 2, 2009 at 8:13am
Best of luck to Kyle Wright and Ryan Bernsen when they head down to Cali for the Western Division Championship!
Comment by Mike Matkowski on July 30, 2009 at 6:15am
Great story and congratulations to the team.
Comment by islandbass on July 29, 2009 at 10:40pm
Wow, what a great story with an awesome ending. Congratulations to you guys.
Comment by Stroller4Life on July 29, 2009 at 10:38pm
Did the Huskies have a team or did they get lost as soon as they were south of Chehalis?
Comment by Jay Johnson on July 29, 2009 at 10:38am
Two thumbs up!!!
Comment by Dave Massey on July 29, 2009 at 8:56am
Way to kick some butt and represent!!! Go Cougs!!
Comment by Ryan Christoph on July 29, 2009 at 8:13am
Comment by David Watkins on July 29, 2009 at 7:55am
Great write up and congratulations on the victory!!
Comment by Shawn O'Connell on July 29, 2009 at 6:51am
Way to go!
Comment by NickBarrFishing.com on July 28, 2009 at 8:15pm

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