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Rude Wins College Series Midwest Regional

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Edward Rude III arrived in La Crosse, Wis., by way

of a 16-hour drive from his hometown of Falling Waters, W.Va. He was in

an unfamiliar town to fish in a tournament on an even more foreign body

of water. It was the Mississippi River, a complex fishery to understand

for an angler from the mountains of West Virginia.

Rude, 19, didn’t let the

river’s daunting size and complex maze of backwaters confuse him for

long. The West Virginia University business student found a game-winning

strategy and took first place in the Carhartt College Series Midwest

Super Regional. His two-day total was 31 pounds, 1 ounce and just good

enough to shut out the 30-10 effort staged by Eric Tessmer and Korey

Sybrant of St. Cloud University.

Rude’s winning strategy

and his chosen area dumbfounded anglers from the Midwest schools. The

prevailing pattern revolved around running-and-gunning for postspawn

bass on the move from backwater spawning areas. That was the game plan

for St. Cloud University and a Winona State University team that

finished in third place.

Rude was all alone in his

area because it simply didn’t make sense to be there for anybody but an

out-of-towner. His obscure area was located up the Black River in a

small no-name bay. Its bare bank sloped at a 45-degree angle into a

25-foot channel. There was nothing fishy for its entire run of 300

yards.

But the name of the game

was the presence of baitfish. Rude saw them breaking the surface upon

entering the area during a blind, random stop there on the final

practice day.

Being on a strange body

of water pointed Rude to a familiar choice in his tacklebox. With little

else to go on, he tied it on and went to work.

“A jerkbait is definitely a confidence lure for

me,†he said. “So I threw it just for the confidence of knowing that if I

could get something going on it, then I would be fine.â€

The pattern came together quickly on the first

tournament day. A limit weighing 15-7 was swimming inside his livewell

within 45 minutes of arrival time.

“There was just so much food in there, the fish didn’t have any choice

but to stay and feed,†he said. “Actually they had no reason to leave.â€

During

the short stay, Rude boated a largemouth weighing 4-5 that eventually

would tie for the Carhartt Big Bass Award. Following it to the boat were

two more fish of the same size. Striped bass were part of the surface

feeding frenzy that would erupt on occasion.

Certain the bass would

stay with the bait, he vacated the area at 8:30 a.m. Back at the

weigh-in, Rude held on to second place with a 4-ounce deficit behind the

15-11 weight of leaders Tessmer and Sybrant.

On the final day, Rude

arrived at the spot within minutes of the 5:30 a.m. takeoff time.

Another limit was on board by 6:15 a.m. The bait hadn’t diminished in

quantity, and the bass were showing themselves again during their

feeding attacks.

Rude stayed for the

remainder of the day to upgrade his catch. The effort paid off with a

15-10 catch that measured up as the biggest sack of the tournament.

The confidence lure was a No. 8 clown colored

Rapala X-Rap. He fished the jerkbait on 15-Seaguar InvizX that was

spooled to Quantum bait cast reels. He fished the combo on a variety of

medium-heavy action rods.

His technique was as simple as the area itself. All he did was cast the rig into the mix of bass and bait for the hookups.

“It just feels awesome to finally win one of these, because it’s been a goal of mine,†said Rude.

Tessmer

and Sybrant fished a backwater area featuring a mix of isolated

boulders and stumps scattered along the shoreline. The setup is common

in river pools 7 and 8 where the competition played out, with one

notable exception.

“Our fish were spitting

out crawfish in the livewell so we knew the area would be productive,â€

said Tessmer, 22, a business management student at St. Cloud State

University.

“The bite was aggressive so that made it all the better for us,†added Sybrant, 24, an elementary education major.

Casting swimbaits at the boulders forming riprap and to the stumps was the team’s strategy. The presence of current was a key.

“The fish were behind and

down current of the rocks and stumps,†said Sybrant. “They were holding

in that slack water and then coming out to feed on the crawfish as they

came by them.â€

The University of

Wisconsin’s Kyle Casper tied for the Carhartt Big Bass Award with his

4-5 largemouth caught on the final day. He caught the fish on a Berkley

Havoc Pit Boss. He rigged it to a 5/0 Gamakatsu EMG hook and ¼-ounce

sinker. He was flipping the rig on a grassy point when the strike

occurred at a depth of 4 feet.