Oklahoma State University juniors Zack Birge and Blake Flurry posted a total of 37 pounds, 13 ounces to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship held at three different sites over three days: the Arkansas River, Lake Maumelle and Hurricane Lake, all near Little Rock, Ark.
“I think this will sink in tonight when I lay down in bed with this trophy next to me,” Flurry said.
Birge from Blanchard and Flurry from Roland led from start to finish in the three-day team tourney, weighing in 16 pounds, 5 ounces Friday on Hurricane Lake to finish almost three pounds ahead of second place Auburn.
University of Oklahoma anglers Tyler Nipper and Paul Muzljakovich finished 15th in the tournament.
The title earns Birge and Flurry $5,000, which will be divided among them and the OSU Bass Fishing Club, said club president Chase Edmiston.
“Other than a small amount given to each club by the school, college anglers have to pay their own way to these tournaments,” Edmiston said. “We do a lot of fundraising to help pay for trips to the national championship.”
Oklahoma State’s secret to success in daily 100-degree, central Arkansas temperatures, first on the Arkansas River, then on Lake Maumelle and finally on Hurricane Lake, was a topwater bite.
Essentially, Birge and Flurry clinched the tournament in the early hours on the first day when they capitalized using a River2Sea green-back, white-belly topwater frog.
“We were straight across from Willow Beach,” Flurry said. “We were on the backside of those islands. We were throwing that frog in the grass. We had a stretch of probably 50-yards long that we caught all 17 pounds on.
“Ten yards to the east, or 10 yards to the west of that grass, you weren’t going to catch anything. It was still a grind, but if we hadn’t caught that 17 pounds on the first day, we wouldn’t be here right now saying we’re the national champions.”
The victory also gives the OSU anglers the opportunity to fish for a spot in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
Birge and Flurry will fish on Saturday and Sunday on Conway’s Beaverfork Lake against other top collegiate anglers in an individual tournament. The winner will receive a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.