Even after all of the mechanical engineering classes that Kyle Alsop took at Kansas State University, the one number he will most likely never forget is 11-11. That’s the weight – 11 pounds, 11 ounces – that he and team partner Travis Blenn posted on the final day of the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance C-Map Genesis to win the title on Wheeler Lake.
In what came down to a moment more nerve-wracking than final exams, K-State took to the weigh-in stage with a limit of bass to try to keep former champs Gettys Brannon and Patrick Walters from the University of South Carolina from winning their second title and a third straight for their school.
The Wildcats needed 10 pounds to get it done.
When the scales flashed 11-11, Alsop and Blenn knew they had accomplished what they came to north Alabama to do: take the National Championship trophy back to Manhattan, Kan. This is the Wildcats’ second National Championship win. K-State’s Ryan Patterson earned the first one in 2012 at Lake Murray. Their total weight for three days was 44-12.
“We really didn’t think we had enough,” Blenn says. “We had been catching bigger fish all week, and today we only got one decent bite, so we just didn’t think we had it.”
“This is unbelievable,” Alsop continues. “This is going to be my last college tournament ever, so to go out like this is unreal. I’m at a loss for words.”
All week the Wildcats team used a green pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog with the tails dyed chartreuse. They rigged the lure in a variety of ways, depending on how they were fishing.
“We had three patterns going this week,” Alsop says. “One was fishing a couple of ledges up in the Decatur area. Another was flipping a couple rows of docks up in Decatur, and then we also had some brush piles down here in First Creek [the takeoff area] that really helped us cull up each day.”
The team rigged the Brush Hogs on a Carolina rig, a Texas rig and a 1/2-ounce Big Bite Baits Swing Head.
“We mostly used the Carolina rig and the Swing Head when dragging the ledges and brush piles,” Blenn adds. “When we were flipping docks we used the Texas rig.”
On two occasions over the first two days, Alsop caught key fish on back-to-back casts; something he attributes to the quick teamwork of his partner, Blenn, who would quickly net the first fish, unhook it and take it to the livewell to allow Alsop to make another quick cast.
“These fish bit in tiny flurries this week,” says Alsop, who won the Bassmaster College Series National Championship in 2016 on Green River Lake with his former partner, Taylor Bivins. “They were in small packs, and when you hooked one, it fired them up for just a few seconds. It was critical to get a cast right back in there to get another bite while it lasted. Travis was so quick with helping me get back out there. There is no doubt that kind of teamwork helped us capitalize on some very fleeting opportunities. It accounted for four of the biggest fish we weighed in this week.”
While Alsop and Blenn enjoyed the fruits of their teamwork today as national champions, they still have one order of business in front of them tomorrow: the Forrest Wood Cup Fish-Off, where the teammates will be pitted against each other for a single berth in the Cup.
But for now, the Wildcats are not looking that far ahead.
“No matter what happens tomorrow, Kyle and I are good enough friends to be happy for whichever one of us advances to the Cup,” says Blenn. “And I can tell you this, Kyle is a good enough stick, he’ll be going to the Cup somehow, some way in the future anyway.”
Top 10 teams
1. Travis Blenn & Kyle Alsop – Kansas State University – 44-12 (15) – Ranger Z175 with 90-hp Evinrude
2. Patrick Walters & Gettys Brannon – University of South Carolina – 43-0 (15) – $5,200
3. Evan Owrey & Kristopher Queen – Bethel University – 42-11 (15) – $4,000
4. Nicholas Joiner & Tyler Stewart – University of Louisiana-Monroe – 38-5 (15) – $3,000
5. Brett Clark & Jacob Keith – East Texas Baptist University – 38-3 (15) – $2,000
6. Gabriel Dubois & Brandon Heizer – University of Missouri – 37-6 (15)
7. Logan Pollman & Tyler Sheppard – Slippery Rock University – 34-3 (15)
8. Chandler Christian & Lance Freeman – Murray State University – 31-13 (15)
9. Brandon Simoneaux & Colby Ogden – Lamar University – 31-2 (12)
10. Ryan Habenicht & Daniel Marshall – University of Oregon – 24-6 (10)