Colorado Mesa bass fishing duo takes big prize in Oklahoma
Josh Worth and Kennedy Kinkade had never competed in a bass fishing tournament. The first time they did, the Colorado Mesa University students slayed the giants.
The bass fishing duo, who grew up fishing on small ponds in Colorado and Utah, captured the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference tournament title a week ago on Grand Lake near Monkey Island, Oklahoma, against the best collegiate competition in bass fishing country.
“If you look at the schools we were up against, they’re known for being good bass fishing schools,” Kinkade said. “We’re just a couple Colorado boys. We don’t have lakes that size even with shad in it. I told Josh before we went down there, we’ll finish like we’re the best fishers.”
The team was so little known, the tournament announcer didn’t know what a mesa was and pronounced it wrong.
The CMU pair decided two weeks before the tournament to enter. They were the only nonsponsored school to participate, Worth said, but they received some free gear from Pepper Custom Baits, a local bait business with hand-tied lures.
Pepper Custom Baits is operated out of the home of the owners in the Appleton area and does custom orders.
“We had about two weeks to get everything ready for this tournament,” Worth said. “I sent an email to Pepper Custom Baits. They decided they wanted to sponsor us. They gave us probably $500 or $600 worth of free gear, jackets and tackle.”
The owners at Pepper Custom Baits told them not to be disappointed if they took last in the tournament.
“We were pretty intimidated,” Worth said. “We went into it to have fun.”
They were among 50 teams registered for the tournament and one of three from Colorado. Colorado State University sent two teams.
The teams had to catch the five largest bass it could during the eight-hour competition. Teams that didn’t return to the dock in time for the final weigh-in were penalized one pound per minute for being late.
CMU was the third team to weigh in of the 36 teams that participated and sat in the ‘Hot Seat’ until all teams were finished at the weigh-in. Worth and Kinkade won with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 4 ounces. They won $2,000.
Kinkade, who played on the NCAA Division II national runner-up Colorado Mesa baseball team, drew on his baseball experience to help them compete against much more experienced bass fishing teams.
“Baseball is a pressure sport,” Kinkade said. “I feel like playing so much baseball gave me an edge. You still have to have the same focus and confidence. Josh and I caught all our fish late in the day. Time’s clicking the whole time. I feel like baseball’s helped me in pressure situations and making decisions.”
The duo had five bass with two hours to spare, so they decided to try an area in the lake most teams left alone.
“We found one spot at the end that gave us our three big fish to win the tournament, all within about 10 feet,” Worth said.
“It was a reaction of different events,” Worth continued. “My dad talked to a guy at a local tackle shop that pointed us to a free boat ramp. We took off from there.
“I took a Pepper Custom Bait jig. Within 15 casts I caught three fish that gave us the win. ... We kind of took a risk. At the other spots we were going to fish, there were other people there.”
Kinkade was fine with Worth’s decision to try the spot on the lake where they found the biggest bass.
“Josh said he wanted to try it,” Kinkade said. “Anything Josh says, I’m thinking the same thing. We never argued once. We did take a little bit of a risk. We had our eyes on the spot all day. I said, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do it.’ “
Pepper Custom Baits let the CMU duo come up with a name for the jig. They chose “Mav Magic.”
“I was just hoping they would have fish to weigh,” said Worth’s father, Dan. He provided the boat and pickup to tow the boat and was reimbursed by CMU for fuel. Most of the competition had $60,000 boats owned by the school they represented.
Since their return from the conference tournament in Oklahoma, Josh Worth has received several emails from area high school students who are considering enrolling at CMU. They were inquiring about fishing for the team.
“Our goal is to have this at CMU, (and it) will continue to only get bigger,” Worth said. “Our main goal is to make bass fishing a bigger name in western Colorado.”
With the victory, CMU qualified for the 2014 Southern Conference Invitational in October on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Rayburn, Texas. If the Mavericks’ tandem finish in the top 10 there out of nearly 50 teams from six states, they will qualify for nationals in the spring of 2015.