FLORENCE, Ala. — Adrian College senior Nick Marsh and freshman Jarrod Layton rode a wave of shallow largemouth to victory at Pickwick Lake with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 11 ounces in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Tour, presented by Bass Pro Shops, over the weekend. The total weight is a school record for any event.
This marks the second major win in three events for the Bulldogs after Chase Serafin and Cody Batterson captured the Fishing League Worldwide Collegiate Open on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky., in March with a 50-3, two-day catch.
"We just had the biggest win in program history just over a month ago with the winning the boat among three top-10 finishes at the FLW Open. So I'm not even sure what to say at this point other than, wow," Bulldogs coach Seth Borton said about the Marsh/Layton victory on Pickwick Lake. "We just topped it again in the star-studded field at B.A.S.S. Southern Open. These are the best teams in the country and to do it twice in a row speaks volumes...unbelievable accomplishment!"
After catching over 20 pounds on both Thursday and Friday, the duo from Michigan managed 17-8 during Saturday's final round to notch the victory by a 5-6 margin over West Virginia University's Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier.
Although they believed their pattern was dying due to the falling water, Marsh and Layton made a slight adjustment and brought in another solid bag of largemouth to sail away with the win.
"We had a few key bites on Friday around cypress trees," Marsh said. "We knew the water would continue to drop and the fish would completely leave the buckbrush and eventually the cypress trees. We shifted to cypress trees and the middle of the pockets. The water cleared up, and we eventually started seeing big largemouth laying in the mud trying to spawn."
They used a one-two punch of flipping a jig at isolated cover and throwing a spinnerbait in the gaps as they covered water. Their key bait was a 1/2-ounce black and blue jig with subtle trailers like a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. The spinnerbait size was key as Marsh and Layton threw a heavy 3/4-ounce model with a bigger blade than what comes stock.
"A lot of anglers like to throw a lighter spinnerbait when you're in 2 feet of water or less, but I felt a bigger one would help coax those bigger fish around the trees and brush," Marsh said. "I changed those blades to bigger sizes, so it would produce more thump and it also allowed me to fish it slower through the cover."
Each day the Adrian College teammates would catch one big smallmouth at Wilson Dam to help anchor their bag. But that didn't pan out Saturday as the fishing near the dam was tougher, so they bailed and relied solely on largemouth.
The top five teams also received Abu Garcia Veritas rods and Abu Garcia Revo reels for outlasting the record-setting 266-boat field.
With the conclusion of the Southern Tour event on Pickwick, there are two remaining Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Tour events left, with the next coming at Cherokee Lake in Tennessee and the finale at Clear Lake in California, both in the month of May.
The top 38 teams qualified for the national championship, which is at Lake Tenkiller, Okla., from Thursday through Saturday, July 19-21.
In other Bulldog news, Tyler Vanbrandt and Ben Barrus led four Adrian boats at the Fishing League Worldwide Northern Conference Event #1 held Saturday on Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston, Va., where the duo finished in 13th place out of 110 boats with 13-3.
--BASSMaster News/Ronnie Moore, Special to AdrianBulldogs.com (photos provided)
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