7 collegiate teams set out at 6:30am on Sunday, September 8, 2002 to catch the 7th Annual Big Ten Classic Conference Title held at Salamonie Reservoir, about 34 miles southwest of Fort Wayne, IN.
Fishing expert, Lonnie Stanley and ESPN's Camera crew were aboard a Skeeter Boat filming the Big Ten fishing tournament to be broadcasted at a later date. Bass Fishing Clubs came from Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Purdue Universities to compete for the overall largest bass caught and the team total catch.
Many of the fishing teams struggled after 10:30am as the Sunday afternoon boat traffic picked up. A variety of artificial bait was used ranging from black/chartreuse to black/blue jigs, crank baits, shad imitators, to 4" Finesse worms. "The key to fishing this tournament was a good hook set," said several of the collegiate fishermen. The Bass Anglers also stated that there were a lot of "short" (small) fish out there. Around 3pm bass teams started coming out of the water at the Dora New Holland Ramp hoping to have caught the biggest bass. And the results:
1st Place Overall Best Bass: Purdue-Mark Sollman 3.66lbs.
1st Place Individual Best Catch: Purdue-Mark Sollman (2-bass) weighed in at 6.04lbs. 2nd Place: WI-Bryce Tyler (2-bass) weighed in at 4.48lbs.
1st Place Team Total: Purdue weigh-in 12.94lbs.
Top Bass Fisherman for this year was Purdue's Mark Sollman. At 6:30am, in 4' of water, Mark caught his first bass using a Rebel Firetiger crank bait. Then around 11:30am he landed the BIG one. Just off a bank, using a Carolina Rig with a Zippo smoke-colored soft plastic shad imitator in about 8' of water, the 3.66lbs. bass hit.
Mark is a newcomer to the Purdue Bass Fishing Team but not to fishing. Mark says his interest in fishing started as a kid. The largest bass he ever caught was 7.5lbs in a farm pond near Evansville, his hometown. The first time this Purdue fisherman had ever fished Lake Salamonie was just 3 weeks ago so being the host school this year didn't give him any advantage, And of course, when asked where his favorite fishin' hole was, his reply: "Salamonie Reservoir from now on. I really like the patterns of the lake here."
The Purdue Bass Club was first established in 1991. Purdue's Bass Team Advisor, Rick Hendrickson, a Biotech Engineer, has been working with the team since 1992. Purdue's 1st Place 10 member team includes one woman.
The Indiana Bass Federation released all the fish caught. Lake surface water temperature during the tournament was 82 degrees. After the weigh-in of the fish they were placed in a live well containing 74-degree water with a chemical called 'Catch Alive - Please Release Me'. Before returning the fish to the waters this chemical helps to replace the slime coat on the fish, oxygenate and reduce the stress on the fish.
Yes, just like football and basketball, fishing is a collegiate sport. In the next 5 years look for Collegiate Bass Fishing Tournaments to go national.