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It's the first event of the year on the Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series,


And the name of the game is big bass. Game plan is try to find some big fish. Lookin' forward to catch a big one. I think we're on the good quality fish, looking at what all was laid in today. Let's hope we can get them in the boat. We're at one of the best big fish lakes in the country, Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The top collegiate anglers will take to the water in hopes of bringing the largest fish to the scales. Coverage of the 2018 Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements starts right now. (rock music) (cheering) Y'all put your hands together, new leaders. (chants) The new big bass is the pride of the month. (cheering) Welcome to Southeast Texas and the famed Sam Rayburn Reservoir for the Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements. Being the first stop of the year for the 2018 Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, anglers are excited for the oppurtunity to get out and go in search of big fish and valuable School of the Year points. We're at Sam Rayburn, and hopefully we're going to catch us some big bass, and put us in that top 10. The inaugural year for this tournament, the Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements, is a big bass format event. Anglers will fish for a full day out on Sam Rayburn Reservoir and, at the conclusion of their allotted time on the water, will bring their biggest fish to the scales. Each angler is allowed to bring just one fish to weigh in. The largest fish to cross the scales will be the winner of the event and win a prize package valued at $5,000. This tournament is paying out all the way to 40th place. Strategy will play key tomorrow on tournament day if these anglers are going to take home one of these prizes, and they're focused on just one thing: catching a big fish. I feel like there's going to be a bunch of fish tomorrow in the four, four and a half-pound range, to the six-pound range. And it's going to take, if you catch a seven-pounder you're going to be a top ten. We want two tomorrow. We don't care when we get them, how we get them. But we want 'em both to be big. Sam Rayburn Reservoir is regarded by most as one of the best fisheries in the nation, and it is home to some Texas-sized largemouths. In a recent Texas Team Trail event, a five bass limit weighing over 37 lbs took home grand prize, and three fish weighing over 10 lbs were brought to the scales. The big fish live here, and they are biting right now. Weather has been a major factor for most of the week leading up to today. As anglers pull through for boat check, wind gusts are picking up, and temperatures are dropping. The impact this'll have on the fishing will be known very shortly. I feel like with this weather coming in, it might slow the bite down a little bit because the rain kinda muddied the water up a little bit. But I still think you can catch them. About the eight to 10-foot should be in those drains if they're wanting to move up. Our cold front moved through yesterday, so it's typical post-front conditions. Kind of windy, still kind of raining a little bit. Hopefully, our trout bite will be good. Catch them early, and then go throw a trap all day and try to catch a big bite. We begin our on-the-water coverage now by following Jared out onto Sam Rayburn where he's joined by teammate JP Kimbrough, and fellow competitor from Lamar University, Steven Thomas. The trio is starting out their morning by throwing moving baits around offshore ditches and depressions. We're just throwing a crank bait, you know... See that little creek that runs in there They're just kinda scattered along the creek. When you find one or two, you usually get a few more bites, but... I don't know what this cold... This front and all this cold's going to do to them. If it's going to load them up more up here, or are they going to... Sometimes they push up to that shallow grass because it warms up faster, but it just really depends. Just some years, you kinda have to play it out. There's one. Big one, too. Yup. That'll work. That's the kind you wanna catch on the Rayburn. It's a little one, though. Look at it. Look how dark... That's how you know you're throwing the right bait. Be some good points. Some good School of Year points, right there. With valuable School of the Year points on the line, the competition is guaranteed to heat up as these anglers begin to catch fish. When we return from break, we'll take a look at the current standings in the Cabela's School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, and provide insight into how important this event is to the outcome of this race. We'll be right back. The Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series is brought to you by... Bass Pro Shops. Your adventure starts here. Ranger Boats. Still building legends one at a time. And by Garmin. Fight your fish, not your fish finder. They'd need a whole lot to win this. For one, it'd be a big old fish to catch, and for two, the main thing is just the School of the Year points. Welcome back to coverage of the 2018 Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series and the Texas Lunker Challenge. Out on Sam Rayburn today, anglers have two things on the brain: big bass, and the Cabela's School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Yeah, we're in 10th for School of the Year right now, so we really need some guys to weigh in some big fish today, and we've got some really good fishermen on our team. In today's event, eight of the top 10 teams are represented, making this a packed field with a lot on the line. LSU Shreveport sits in the current number one spot, followed by Northwestern State University and the University of Louisiana Monroe. The overall winner of this event will win 500 points for their respective school. For teams who've been close before, but were unable to seal the deal, winning it all is the only thing that matters. We've been trying for... We've been, usually, at the top every year. Last year, we kinda fell behind. And so, this year we're trying to get first and be School of the Year. Right now we're in second, School of the Year points. We've never really been that high before. It's definitely something special to us. Right now, the way we're fishing... I know this is an individual tournament, where, I guess, formatted that way for fish. But we're really trying to fish kinda conservatively and at least catch up. One of our teams right now, we were fishing by them earlier. They got about a six and a half-pounder, and we got one a little over four. So for team points, that's a decent weight. It's better than us having a seven-pounder and then nobody else having nothing to go with it. So we're trying to fish what we know, up shallow, and maybe get lucky and catch a real big one. But just having consistent weights to give us the decent points to keep on staying on top right now for School of the Year points. I don't know what else to do to catch a big one. These four fish catches in a row by La Prairie could prove crucial in determining a pattern. Although none of the fish were able to cull what he already has in the well, that has to be a pretty good confidence boost as head near the midway point of the day. Another fun element at play during this tournament is the oppurtunity for anglers to fish three to a boat. Along with that, all three anglers do not have to represent the same university. This provides the oppurtunity for friends and competitors alike to fish together and enjoy one another's company in a more relaxed tournament setting. College fishing, in a sense, is more than just about fishing. You kinda have like a fraternity feeling. We all travel all over the country together, see each other all the time... So we all know each other real well and get along real well and we're always fishing against each other and never with each other. I guess we're really not a team today, but... Yeah. When it's time for fishing, I'm not letting anyone see. Oh, you've got an eight-pounder Oh, man... Getting that nice keeper in the net, Taren from LSU Shreveport held up his end of the bargain by netting that Sam Rayburn stud for fellow competitor, Stephen, or Lamar University. The bite is getting better and the quality fish are beginning to show up. Stay tuned for more giant bass as coverage of the Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements continues. The Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series is brought to you by... Cabela's. It's in your nature. BoatUS. We're with you on the water. Hydrowave. Ignite a feeding frenzy. And by Temple Fork Outfitters. Power to the angler. So far today, fishing has been consistent for most of the field, even though the weather conditions are not working in their favor. We move now to the in-state team of Matthew Bowden and Kyle Kontar from Texas Tech University. They've decided to stay closer to the launch site and avoid getting out in the windy conditions on the main lake. Well, we've been practicing up north and then, with the wind, we decided we're just going to launch at the pavilion and kind of scrounge up some fish down here. And we've each got one in the box. Nothing special but... Just going down the bank throwing A-rigs, throwing a trap, throwing a Trakker bait, and kind of hoping for the best right now. It's been a tough morning. The wind's playing a real big factor so we figured we could just go down to some of these secondary points and creek-channel things over here. With a lot of grass, we're just throwing an A-rig and a trap jerk bait. All that good stuff. These fish are certainly... They should be starting to stage and I'm just hoping we find a big female somewhere along here. There we go. Don't think he's going to help. With one fish in the box already that is significantly larger, it looks like Bowden will not be able cull up with his recent catch. There we go. Attaboy. He'll help. Being able to cull up today is key because it means you're catching bigger fish. And, with each cull, can move your way up the leaderboard in a hurry. A little bit of that but, anyway... I might have to wait on this fish here but higher place, more points. One angler who may have difficulty culling for the rest of the day is Scott Ellis from the university of Tennessee Knoxville. His circumstances, though, are drastically different than most competitors in today's field. Scott has a nine-plus pound fish in the box. I honestly though I was almost hung because it was just not even really moving. And I sat there for a second like this and you could see my rod bouncing up and down. And I trolled over to it and it came loose and rolled up and it was completely covered in grass and all you could see was just a giant mouth. I mean, it was more shock than just excitement. We didn't freak out or anything. Just in shock that we just caught that fish. It's a good one. And, like I said, we didn't even practice up here. I wasn't super-efficient at covering water, especially, with the fog and... The second day of practice, we just kind of stayed close to the ramp and I knew from doing research that up here was a really good area. Pulled up to it and just started catching fish this morning. The bar sure has been set high by Scott, and that could be a tough number to beat come the end of the day. We'll check in now with our 10th place team in the Cabela's School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Jacob Kieth and Mason Beatty from East Texas Baptist University. They've had a solid start to the day. But can either one of them challenge for the lead It's been going pretty boring. We had a little beach spot we started on this morning that I actually messed up and caught a big one on it yesterday. And we pulled in there this morning and, about our third cast, we caught our first fish. We've been catching them all morning and finally figured out we should probably get to the grass and try the hook bait. And, you know, we've caught probably 15 or 20 fish but the biggest one so far has been two and a half pounds. It's been up and down for us. But we're expecting it. But recently, every time we've got on this lake, we've had a cold front come through either the day before or the day of. But the couple of times we've been down here, it's been steady... We've had a fairly decent showing. But I'd say it's up and down for us. We're just hoping here soon they'll be turning on for us. It's time now for a break. But when we return, the time is running out for the anglers to find the winning fish. Who will walk away as the winner of the Texas Lunker Challenge Stay tuned and find out. The Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series is brought to you by... Gill. Dress like a pro. Denali Rods. Experience the Denali advantage. And by Bob's Machine Shop. Go fast, go shallow, go efficient. Welcome back to coverage of the Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements. Time is winding down for anglers to catch a big fish and earn valuable School of the Year points. These freshmen from the second place team of Northwestern State University understand the magnitude of this race. We're only hoping that the other guys, Johnny and them... They've been working out here all four years. They've been here just building it up and building it up and they finally got it up towards the top. It's a lot of hard work and we've finally got it up there and we're hoping we can keep it. That's one of the thing's that is crucial and, hopefully, we can get a couple of big bites today. During the school year, you're the best school in the nation and that's something you have to really be proud of... Especially, as freshmen. If we can get through and we have four years, you're pushing even harder to make sure you maintain it because once you're at the top, everybody's gunning for you. So you just want to make sure that you can keep your lead once you get. That school that everyone is gunning for is LSU Shreveport. We've covered them throughout the day and know that, as a vote, they have several quality fish. Their goal for the rest of the day is to add one more fish to their box in hopes of maintaining their lead. It's going good so far. It's been pretty nippy this morning, but that's alright. I'm using a new bait, catching quite a few fish. Just trying to see if I can get mine. And then... Nah, nevermind. Oh, I see money, team... I saw another one earlier. Where's it coming from Who would've known you would have a lot of trouble to work on the Sam Rayburn As that fish is released back into Sam Rayburn Reservoir, we head back to the weigh-in site where anglers are making their ways to the tanks with their day's catch. It's cold and windy. It's fishing pretty slow... We fished yesterday, caught quite a few. But today, they just didn't bite like they did yesterday. We caught about eight fish using chatter baits in grass but never could catch any of size. It's definitely a rough day. With early reports of tough conditions out on Sam Rayburn today, Justin Barnes, from the University of Montevallo comes to the stage looking to set the bar high early on in this weigh-in. What do you think it's going to weigh I don't know. Take a guess. -Eight-something. He think eight-something. He's close. 8.64. A beautiful fish. Now, get that fish out and hold it up for everybody. 8.64... That's what we're look for, folks. Y'all put your hands together for him. We had a tough practice. We got a lot of two, two and a half-pounders. We didn't really have high expectations. We knew this lake's got big ones. At least we're not doing bad... Around 11 o' clock, we took one and I said, "Let's get you a bass." And it was a bass. 8.64. The big fish are starting to roll in now as more and more anglers come across the stage. The next angler with their sights set on that top prize is Dustin Nash from Northwestern State University which currently sits in the second spot for the School of the Year standings. 6.55. Six-five-five. Hold that fish up. That fish is good enough to put Dustin in second at the moment and the young angler is fired up about his day on the water. We had a pretty good day out there today. We had about 23 pounds of our best stuff and we managed to catch two decent one's this morning. We're sitting in second in the School of the Year so catching this two fish and placing pretty good should help us out. The team everyone is chasing is LSU Shreveport. With these two quality fish, they know they've earned some solid points. You know, we did pretty good. We didn't smash or anything. We caught a lot of good quality fish. But, overall, we only caught.... I had a five and a half, he had a four. And that's going to get us some really good points for the school year and that's the most important thing coming down here. An angler who is no stranger to big bass is Scott Ellis from the university of Tennessee Knoxville. Performing well at big bass events in the past, Scott is looking poised to continue that trend here today. 8.65 right now is leading this tournament up. Let's see what it's going to do. How about 9.64. Nine-six-four! That giant bass Scott Ellis atop the leaderboard, exactly one pound ahead of second place. With just a few anglers left to go, the only question on Scott's mind is, "Will that weight hold up" I don't know. This lake, I mean, it's a heck of a lake. So anything can happen. Just like me catching that 9.64, somebody else could easily catch one over 10. I mean, I said it all along. If you wanted to win this tournament, in my mind, you have to have a double-digit fish. We'll see. I sure hope it holds up, though. No other anglers are able to touch the mark set by Scott Ellis as the closest remaining competitors cross the scales with nothing over seven pounds. So here's a look at the final leaderboard with Scott Ellis from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in first place, followed by Justin Barnes of University of Montevallo. And rounding up the top three is Dustin Nash of Northwestern State University. Hey, I pulled it off. I hold the pound lead. I don't know if it made from a pound but I hold the pound lead and it's awesome. I couldn't be happier with it and it's a great feeling. As winner of today's event, Scott takes home a prize package valued at $5000, as well as earning his team 500 points towards the School of the Year raise. It's some awesome School of the Year points. Hopefully, we can make a run at it. We finished top five last year, I believe, and it would be great, I mean, great, to win it. Let's see where we stand after this. We ought to be way up. And here are the Cabela's School of the Year standings presented by Abu Garcia following this event. The University of Tennessee Knoxville was unable to crack the top ten with their great showing today. But one team making a significant jump is Bethel University as they move up from seventh place to claim the top spot. Northwestern State stays put at second by does manage to outdo LSU Shreveport as they fall from first place down to third. That concludes our coverage of the 2018 Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements. Be sure to follow the Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing Series online and on social media to stay up to date with the latest news and notes. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time. This has been a CarecoTV Production.