College anglers break 20-year record for three-day winning weight

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Kyle Jessie

As Cole Dimauro and Cole Sands hoisted the trophies after winning the 2020 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops at the Harris Chain of Lakes with a three-day total of 84-12, records fell around them. 

Not only did the Bryan College duo break the record for the most weight caught in a three-day college event, they also set the mark for the most winning weight caught in any three-day Bassmaster event that was previously set by former Elite Series angler Byron Velvick at the B.A.S.S. California Invitational at Clear Lake April 13-15, 2000. 

“Anytime you catch that kind of weight is very impressive,” Hank Weldon, College Series Tournament Director said. “B.A.S.S. has been around since the late 60s and has had a lot of weights recorded and for this to be up there is a feat in of itself. Even what Patrick Walters did last week, his three-day total wasn’t 84-12.”

Michael Keen has been the head coach at Bryan College since the program began in 2009 and said the performance is one of the most impressive he has seen since taking the position.

“That was quite the performance,” Keen said. “It is three of the biggest bags I’ve seen since I’ve been here at Bryan. Those guys just took it to a new level. Normally in most tournaments, if you are 2 or 3 pounds ahead of second place you are doing pretty well. It was almost 26 pounds between first and second place.”

After learning the National Championship would be held on the Harris Chain, Dimauro made several trips back to his home state to practice for the event before the lakes went off limits. That preparation made a big difference, Keen said. 

“They put the time into this tournament, and they really did their homework,” Keen said. “It is special. These two guys are special, and they are special to our team. They are obviously excellent anglers, but they are excellent students. The fashion they won this and shattering the records is special, this one is sweet.” 

While Velvick took the fishing world by storm using a big swimbait to win the California Invitational in 2000, Sands and Dimauro used a tried-and-true technique, the Carolina rig, to accomplish their record-breaking feat. 

Their best spot located on Lake Beauclair produced giant bass every day of the tournament, including a fish Sands estimated to be more than 8 pounds that anchored their Day 3 bag. The key to getting that bite was dragging the Carolina rig through the grass and onto the hard bottom. Oftentimes when the bait exited the grass, that’s when they would get bit. 

“That’s a spot that has been producing. It is a spot people have been catching them on forever and people will be catching them on forever,” Dimauro said after the Day 3 weigh-in. “We were dragging our Carolina rigs and it would get mushy, and it was either a fish or a piece of grass.” 

After finishing second in the 2019 National Championship, winning this year was the perfect way for Sands to wrap up his collegiate career.

“Last year we got to feel what defeat tasted like,” Sands said. “Just to come back is like a storybook ending. To win this one, there is no better way to go out from Bassmaster College Series fishing than to win this trophy in the fashion we did.” 

With the National Championship under their belts, Sands and Dimauro will shift their focus to the College Classic Bracket that will be held on Lay Lake Nov. 17-19. The top four teams from the National Championship qualified for the individual, elimination style tournament. The winner of the bracket will qualify for the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts.

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