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IU bass fishing club aims for second straight regional championship


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By CJ Lotz



Dustin Vaal kissed his fish. He hauled the 5-pound, 5-ounce largemouth bass into the boat just long enough for a picture and a weigh-in, then puckered up before dropping it back in Lake Monroe on Friday.

“You give me two weeks,” he said to the fish. “Go eat, and then come back to me.”

This weekend was the IU Bass Fishing Club’s last time to spend on the lake before the FLW College Fishing Central Regional Championship. The championship is Nov. 4 to 6 at Lake Monroe. After Sunday, the team isn’t allowed to touch the water until practice day Nov. 3.

Jesse Schultz and Vaal, the two IU fishermen who will defend their regional title from last year, didn’t miss a moment to spend on the water, fishing all three days this weekend. On Friday, they fished from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., catching four fish and scouting their favorite banks.

Last year, IU Bass Fishing won $50,000, including a new boat, in the regional tournament on Kentucky Lake near Murray, Ky. Now, they’re looking for a win on a lake they know better than any other team.

The home lake advantage is about knowing the good spots, Schultz said. The team looks for shallow water against banks where trees and rocks provide shelter. Wind pushes schools of small fish to shallow areas, where the bass swim to feed.

Vaal’s favorite season on the water is fall. But in weeks, days or hours, a lake can change. Rain and wind can shift the movement of fish and personality of the water.

“We know where all the cover is,” Schultz said. “So if the water rises, we realize what’s under it.”

Although they can’t control the weather, Schultz and Vaal said they can focus on how they fish.

“We have to be one mind working together,” Schultz said. “We don’t argue. We become like one fisherman.”

Schultz and Vaal fished again from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, catching nothing until they found a new sweet spot and caught four fish in 30 minutes, Schultz said.

On Sunday, the club fished a tournament among members, with Vaal and Schultz fishing in two boats to cover more water. Schultz came in third. First place went to Zack Wojtowicz and second to Chris Weiss.

It only took a 6.8-pound fish to win the tournament, Schultz said. This could be a sign that the regional tournament will result in fewer or smaller fish, but Schultz said he and Vaal want to be the fishermen catching them.

In the May division qualifier, Schultz and Vaal placed second behind Purdue on Kentucky Lake. The other division qualifiers will gather at Lake Monroe for the 3-day tournament that will send the top five teams to compete nationally.

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Jesse Schultz, president of the IU Bass Fishing Club, inspects the 14-inch largemouth bass he caught Friday morning ay Lake Monroe. The Bass Fishing Club would consider this fish a "keeper" but not a "monster." CJ Lotz Buy Photos

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