The Kansas State University team of Nathan Kozlowski and Lance Maldonado, both of Junction City, Kan., won the FLW College Fishing Central Conference event on Pickwick Lake Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Central Conference Invitational tournament.
“This feels great,” said Maldonado, who is a junior majoring in Management and fishing in his second career FLW College Fishing event. “This is my first year fishing for the Kansas State team. I transferred here because I knew that Nathan was coming here and we wanted to fish together for the Wildcats.
“We’ve grown up together and been fishing with each other since we were five or six years old,” Maldonado continued. “Not many people can say that they’ve been fishing with the same guy for that long. This was pretty special.” The Kansas State Wildcat team used their experience and the strong Tennessee River current to their advantage. They targeted boulders and breaks in the current where the fish were waiting to ambush the bait.
“We were fishing community holes,” Maldonado continued. “Downstream from the dam to Seven-Mile Island. We would locate the big boulders on the shore, and that told us that there were more close by. We fished slow and worked our baits differently, and I think that was the key for us.”
Kozlowski, a junior majoring in Finance, estimated that they caught 30 to 40 fish throughout the day, but only 10 keepers. He said that they caught fish on multiple presentations, including a Zara Spook, a buzzbait, 5-inch swimbaits and black and blue-colored Jewel Baits jigs.
“It really turned on for us between 9 and 10 a.m.,” Kozlowski said. “We were just popping our jigs off of the rocks and fishing them differently than everyone else.”
The duo weighed in a mixed bag of bass of three smallmouth, one spotted bass and one largemouth. Maldonado gave a large amount of credit to his partner Kozlowski, who was able to pre-fish Pickwick Lake last weekend.
“It was pretty cool weighing in a stringer with three different species,” Maldonado said. “Nathan was able to come down here last weekend and get some practice time in, and he caught 17 or 18 pounds. We felt pretty good confident coming in, and it feels great to get the victory.”