Oklahoma beat Alabama again.
Only this time it wasn’t in the Sugar Bowl. It was on Alabama’s Lay Lake.
Last Sunday, anglers from the University of Oklahoma Bass Club won the Bassmaster College Classic for the second straight year.
Except this year’s victory was unexpected and more impressive. Last year, with the Bassmaster Classic held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, the Sooners won the one-day college version of the event on Lake Hudson.
The only schools competing were OU, Oklahoma State and Arkansas. This year, B.A.S.S. changed the format for the college tournament and invited every school in Alabama to compete along with OU, the defending champions.
Sooner anglers Caleb Masters of Bixby and Landon Dixon of Hinton were the only fishing team not from Alabama fishing in the tournament on an Alabama lake.
The University of Alabama, Auburn and 10 other schools in the state participated in the Bassmaster College Classic on Lay Lake, about two hours from where the Bassmaster Classic was being held on Lake Guntersville.
“Neither of us had been on the lake before,” Masters said. “We got a day and a half for practice.”
Despite their unfamiliarity with the water, the Sooner team caught 16 pounds and finished tied for first with a two-angler team from West Alabama University.
“We had a total of five bites in practice,” said Masters, a sophomore majoring in construction science. “On tournament day, we just went out there and went fishing. We just keyed on rock banks and rip raps and that’s what did it for us.”
The Sooner duo caught bass on jigs, shaky heads and crankbaits in 6 to 8 feet deep of water.
At the weigh-in before thousands of bass fishing fans in Birmingham, Ala., Hinton, a junior majoring in marketing, remarked on stage about dreaming of a Sugar Bowl repeat. A few people in the audience booed but most remained silent “which I thought was funny,” Masters said.
Bass fishing is a club sport on college campuses. Both of the major professional bass fishing organizations, FLW and B.A.S.S., have college tournament trails.
The tournaments do not charge entry fees, but student anglers must pay for their travel expenses, which is why the OU Bass Fishing Club has just six members, Masters said.
Sunday’s victory means OU will be invited to participate in next year’s Bassmaster College Classic in South Carolina.
The OU anglers didn’t receive any prize money for winning the tournament, just a trophy. It’s a trophy that won’t be displayed in the Switzer Center.
“My partner and I are keeping it,” Masters said.