Bass to The Bone
By: Jacob Greene
One jumped sandbar. One broken boat. Five fish.
These events led to a Simpson Bass team tournament win.
Coach Alex Theimann took eight members of the team to Arizona for the first collegiate tournament of the year. Captained by Nathan Phillips, the team arrived Sept. 22. The team had two days of pre-fishing in preparation for the derby on Saturday.
Lake Havasu had a five fish bag limit. Each team kept only five of the fish they caught. At the end of the tournament, the bag with the best weight wins. There were eight teams at the Lake Havasu tournament, four were teams from Simpson. There are two people per boat, a boater and a non-boater. A boater is the designated driver, the non-boater does not drive the boat. Both teammates are allowed to fish in the tournament.
Jayden Nezy said, “The pre-fishing bite, honestly, wasn’t that bad. We found a flippin’ bite, we found a frog bite.”
During pre-fishing, it took three hours and a vast array of lures to catch a “keeper.” A “keeper” is any fish big enough to add a significant amount of weight to a team’s overall weight (the bag).
“We knew it would be tough, the water was low, we were the fifth tournament there (that week),” said Quinn Hawkinson.
They got the boat stuck twice during practice-because they did not have an SD card in the navigation system.
The second day of pre-fishing was when the duo successfully jumped the sand bar and celebrated with high fives. Seconds after their jubilation they heard a scratch and a small grinding noise. Hawkinson pulled up his motor and realized he was missing his skeg (the part of the lower unit that turns the boat). His hydraulic steering was also going out. After testing out the steering they decided to go back after the bite deteriorated. Hawkinson later realized there was a giant hole in his lower unit that he had not seen. After turning the motor down to let the water out of it about a cup of oil spilled out, there was also a slow drip. That night Hawkinson debated on what to do. He had options including using someone else’s boat or taking a chance and using his own boat, if he topped it off full of oil beforehand. Thiemann helped Hawkinson fill up his lower unit to compensate for the slow leak.
“I ran to Wal-Mart at nine-o’clock (pm) and I had Alex [Thiemann] fill the (lower) unit up with oil,” explained Hawkinson.
Hawkinson said they topped it off in the morning because there was a slow leak.
“Once your lower unit runs out of oil, it basically explodes,” he said.
When tournament day came, they barely made it across the lake.
Nezy said that they “Fished the same three-hundred yards,” he explained that their strategy and mindset was to just “Get to our spot, if we get to our spot…there’s a sliver of a chance that we even place.”
Hawkinson agreed, “Our mindset was literally just ‘make it to the spot.’”
“If we made it to the spot we were free,” emphasized Nezy.
“I figured we could ten pounds out of that spot, twelve easy, but the bite changed,” said Hawkinson.
They ended up scraping by with just barely ten pounds, but it was enough to win the tournament. They said they caught about ten to twelve keepers, but twenty fish in total.
They did not realize they won until the person in front of them weighed in their bag. Nezy observed they were the only team to show up with a limit, so he thought they had a chance of winning. Meanwhile, Hawkinson did not realize they had won until he was told. He has never won a tournament with ten pounds before.
Hawkinson was not too optimistic about winning however, "........especially because of all the sticks we have; Nathan, Austin, Ryan, Taj," he said, referring to the veteran anglers on the team.
Hawkinson and Nezy were very glad to get the win of course, but they were happier that they didn't break down and that they were able to even get across the lake and back. Some things they learned that they are going to use in their next tournaments are Navionics (an app for navigation and graphing) and to take things a little bit slower.
They both hope to do better in future tournaments. Hawkinson and Nezy would like to personally thank Simpson University, Simpson Bass fishing team, and Coach Theimann for the opportunity to fish at Lake Havasu for the first time. They also would like to thank all the sponsors, Lew’s, and Strike King for their support.
Four SU veteran anglers returned from the Oct. 9-10 tournament at Lake Dardanelle (AR), with one SU team placing 101 out of over 200 other teams.