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Fish and Chips

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

By Jacob Greene

Image: From the Simpson Bass Fishing team’s website

Rookie and veteran anglers are set to compete on the national stage in Oklahoma.

The Simpson Bass Fishing team has a tournament-filled March and April. Lake Havasu, Arizona; Fort Gibson Lake, Oklahoma: Clear Lake, California: and the California Delta are all locations that the team will be competing at.

Nathan Phillips (Junior) and Ty Manterola (Freshman) are both competing in the Abu Garcia National College tournament this year. With them, 6 other anglers from the Simpson Bass Fishing team are competing. Phillips, an experienced angler, is leading the team in the National tournament again this year.

Manterola, however, has never competed in Collegiate Nationals, only High School Nationals.

“I expect to go in knowing that I have the tools and opportunities to win, this is the toughest tournament that college bass fishing has to offer. So, it's not going to be easy, but I don't do this expecting myself to lose, so honestly, I expect us to win,” he said.

Phillips voiced his confidence, “I think as a team if we can all stay positive and fish hard all day, we are going to be super hard to beat.”

“You have to start at the basics, try to find a pattern, and run from there,” Phillips said. “There’s times where we definitely like to put a lot of unneeded pressure on ourselves, we know how to catch ‘em we just have to relax and do our thing.”

This year the team has expanded from 4 anglers to 9.

Phillips emphasized how important chemistry is in a tournament.

“This year we have a bunch of new partnerships so it’s important to just fish with your partner and learn their strengths and weaknesses. You want to just be able to feed off each other without even talking.” Phillips said, “Decisions in this sport need to be that fast to be at the top. Everyone has got to be on the same page and if you aren’t, things just seem to fall apart.”

Phillips has competed in many tournaments throughout his collegiate fishing career. The team has experienced college fishermen, including Taj White, Ryan Beaty, and Austin Rojas. There is also transfer student Myles Davis (upperclassman). There are anglers like Manterola, who are new to collegiate angling. These other freshman anglers include [captain] Quinn Hawkinson, Jayden Nezy, and Jacob Greene.

They have a busy tournament schedule for March and April.

Phillips said, “I like having tournaments closer together because you can get momentum going just like any other sport. It’s a lot harder to keep that momentum if we must wait 2 months to finish the next tournament. Keeping the confidence high is a major part of anyone’s success in anything they do.”

These tournaments soak up lots of time and preparation. You need skill and head knowledge to do well. Especially when you are fishing for new water.

Manterola said, “Ever since I found out where we're going for Nationals, what lake it was going to be on, most of my research is on YouTube or Google Earth.”

Manterola said, “Kind of seeing what type of color is in the lake and what the water clarity is like, what the conditions look like on that particular lake, and get an idea of what the layout of the lake is.”

“I spend hours and hours on Google Earth,” Manterola commented, talking about how he has probably spent “50 plus hours on Google Earth since finding out where it’s at.”

He breaks the lake into sections and marks different things, so he knows where things are underwater. From an aerial view, when the water is at its lowest, he can see the underwater cover.

One major thing you must prepare is your tackle. The key to efficiency on the boat is having every lure rigged up before you go out.

“Us guys on the Simpson team have had a lot of experience in that,” Manterola stated, referring to the whole team staying mentally focused during a long tournament, “with not a lot of sleep or good nutrition.”

Most people do not understand the mental, physical, and all-around preparation that goes into a fishing tournament. There is lots of preparation and head knowledge you need, not to mention great communication and impeccable efficiency.

“I think it should set up just right to catch some good pre-spawn fish, as long as we don’t get a major cold front that will stunt those fish in transition,” said Phillips about the timing of the National Tournament.

The fish are bedding, getting ready to spawn and lay eggs. As warmer weather approaches, the bite gets better because they are more aggressive. The current weather is setting the Simpson Bass Fishing team up to have a successful next couple of months.

Sources: Nathan Phillips and Ty Manterola

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