Editor's note: This week, ESPNOutdoors.com invited members of Oklahoma's bass fishing team to join coverage of the Sooner Run presented by Longhorn. The collegiate anglers posted blog on this site and appeared on Hooked Up, the live Internet show in advance of the live weigh-in. Weigh in with your comments via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.
Today, the Sooner Bass Anglers got unleashed on the live show Hooked Up. The Oklahoma crowd went crazy when Mark Zona introduced us.
It was a really cool to be on the same stage that KVD won on. It was great exposure for our bass team, and really opened up some doors for us.
Also, we got the chance to meet the legend Bob Cobb, who we found out was an OU alumni. We are looking forward to working with him in the future. Overall the Sooner Run was definitely an awesome experience.
Stuck in traffic
This morning when I woke up and saw that it wasn't raining, I expected it to be a good day on the water. Until about 9 in the morning, my expectations were true. Once the sun came out and the hangovers began to wear off, every person in their 40-foot cruiser blessed us with their presence.
No matter where I went on the lake, I was battling huge wakes and annoying jet skis. I guess that's the price you pay to enjoy the great bass fishing on Grand Lake. As far as the fishing goes, the bass seemed to be biting as they have all week.
Saturday, I asked Jeff Kriet where he would be starting on Sunday morning, and I was waiting on him and his entourage when they arrived. The spot where he smoked his 24 pounds Saturday didn't produce but Jeff kept reassuring his fans that it was an afternoon bite, and he wasn't worried.
I followed him most of the day, and during the afternoon, his fish did seem to bite better. KVD's crowd was by far the largest, even though he wasn't leading the tournament. It's about halfway dangerous following him around the lake.
Despite the relentless cruiser wakes and teenagers trying to show off on their jet skis, the day went well. Being able to watch the best in the world fish this week has been a great experience, and hopefully they'll come back in 2009.
Day Three weigh-in
Today was quite a day; I got the chance to visit with my favorite angler, Oklahoma pro (OU alumni) Jeff Kriet, after his weigh-in.
He is such a nice guy; he basically broke down his day. It was awesome just listening to him talk about his day.You can really tell he was really pumped about leading the tournament.
I knew he had a great sack today because when I came out of the ESPN trailer at about 2:30, Kriet was just chilling out backstage with his 24-pound sack 30 minutes early. After his weigh-in, he came up to Justin Hurd and I said, "Dude, sweet jerseys!" He also told us that he would help us out with some up-and-coming college tournaments, and we got some pictures with him that will be posted soon.
The highlight of the whole thing was when he invited me and Justin Hurd down to fish with him on his private lake. Man, being here in person is awesome!
Oh, I almost forgot When I was watching the weigh-in wearing my Sooners fishing jersey, two little kids walked right past Rick Clunn and asked me for my autograph. I was pretty embarrassed but I signed their hats anyway. It was flattering.
Well, I just left the Day Three weigh-in. It was one of the most exciting events that I have been involved in recently. The rest of the team and I were there dressed in all of our Oklahoma fishing jerseys, going around to each booth and talking with a number of people.
Many of the spectators were mistaking us for the pro anglers competing in the tournament. I was asked for my autograph about a dozen times throughout the weigh-in and was happy to give it to anyone who asked. Even with all the pros, it was really a cool experience to have people asking me for my autograph, even though I am just a college fisherman. The experience makes me want to start competing in these events in the near future.
Not only me, but all the teammates are happy to talk with anyone who has any questions concerning collegiate fishing and what our team is all about. We are all very thankful that we have been given the opportunity to go out and fish in collegiate events all over the country. I look forward to getting back out there tomorrow.
A view from above
I guess you could say that today I was flying high. I had the opportunity to go up in the helicopter as it searched Grand Lake for the leading pros. Having never been in a helicopter before, I was pretty nervous at first, but the nervousness turned to excitement when after about five minutes we spotted a large gallery of boats on the water watching KVD.
The top pros out here are like magnets for spectator boats. When you are watching the pros from the water, it seems like it is fairly easy to spot significant points and fishing spots. However, when you are in the air and are able to see the hundreds of points, coves, banks, and miles of shoreline, you gain an appreciation for how good these guys really are at finding big bass.
One of the highlights of the helicopter trip was being able to hover over the tournament leader, Jeff Kriet. Believe it or not, while I was watching Kriet from the chopper, I noticed that my fellow Sooner Bass Angler, Justin Hurd, was in the on-the-water gallery watching him fish.
Watching Jeff Kriet
I just got off the water after my first day of following the Elite pros around my home lake. Despite the rain and wind, and lack of rain suit (I'm an idiot), I still had a great experience chasing them around the lake.
Throughout the day, I was able to watch the top pro's fish the water that I fish on the regular basis, such as KVD, Ike, McClelland, Evers, and Kriet. The crowds that surround the guys are unbelievable, and the fact that they can perform as well as they do under that kind of pressure is amazing.
The little amount of time that I have been on camera in our college tournaments makes me so nervous that I can barely make a decent cast, much less put 20 pounds in the boat, day in and day out. The highlight of my day had to be watching Kriet fish. I pulled up on him at about noon, on a point that I have fished many of times, and he begins to give everyone a free lesson on how to whack 4-pounders, one after another.
Not only was he culling fish after fish, but he was most likely the nicest pro I have ever had the pleasure of watching. As he fished, he didn't care if we were 10 feet away from him, and he would talk to you like you had been friends for years. It's easy to root for a guy with a friendly personality like his.
All in all, the day has been exciting and eventful, and I'm hoping tomorrow will be the same. BOOMER SOONER!!
Chatting with KVD
Last night, I encountered one of the most unforgettable experiences any young angler could ever have. The leader after the first two days, KVD had broken his speaker for his Biosonix fish attractor during Day Two. Just so happens, I had the representative from Biosonix staying with me at my place. We loaded up and went over to the cabin in which Kevin was staying to help install a new speaker on his boat. It was really a treat to know that I was helping one of the best anglers in the world at a time when he was leading one the Elite Series tournaments.
Not only did I have the opportunity to help him out, but at a time when there had to have been tremendous amounts of pressure on him, Kevin still took time to have a conversation with us. We sat there while he prepared his gear for the following day, and I got to see what the best in the world were using on my home lake.
Being around these guys has been a great experience that I believe every young angler needs to be introduced to. The tournament is only halfway over and I have already learned a tremendous amount from these guys. Best of all, they take the time to help and explain tips and techniques to all.
A Night of Bowling
I just made my drive immediately coming from work in Chelsea, Okla., to Grove. I got word from one of my fellow SBA (Sooner Bass Anglers) that there was a bowling tournament going on at Canterbury Lanes between several pro anglers along with ESPN's Mark Zona and Mark Jeffreys from Basszone.com.
Once I finally found the bowling alley, I walked in and it was kind of crazy that I got the chance to hangout and got to watch these guys just cut loose have a good time completely different from when they are on the water. Kelly Jordan, Derek Remitz, Casey Ashley, Steve Kennedy, Marty Robinson, and Kevin Wirth were all the pros in attendance. These guys are definitely competitive no matter what they do.
I was talking to Steve Kennedy's wife, Julia, and she told me after the pre-tournament meetings they were at the bowling lanes practicing. Also, Kelly Jordan came to the alley with his own bowling ball. Afterward, everyone was just standing around I got the chance to talk to Derek Remitz about how he felt about the remainder of the tournament. He told me that he thought he felt good about sitting in eleventh and thought he could catch a good sack tomorrow.
It was really cool relating to someone my age. I wanted to get a picture with Steve Kennedy but was hesitant to ask him. However, I found out that he was a very personable and a great guy. Plus, how many other people have a picture with Steve Kennedy holding a bowling ball? The whole night was a lot of fun and almost surreal. Tomorrow I am going to be out on the water and at the weigh in and can't wait to see what the day will bring.
The First Morning Thursday, June 21
The first day on the water at Grand Lake and it has already been a memorable experience. The first area where we stopped was packed with pros that were flipping the willows. These guys weren't just flipping around the outside of the willows, they were all up in them. At one point, all you could see of Edwin Evers' boat was the motor – the rest was underneath an overhanging willow tree. You can really learn a lot by watching how the pros fish shallow water. They aren't afraid to put the boat in tight places to reach the best water. One of the highlights was being able to watch one of the best flippers in the world, Denny Brauer, flip right in the middle of a bush and come out with a bass.
It is a humbling experience to watch a pro stick good fish off of spots that you have passed over in the past and never thought to fish. They know how to find them!
I'm looking forward to attending the weigh-in. I know that last year, the Sooner Run tournament had great attendance and I'm sure it will be huge again this year. Matt Pangrac
Well I just woke up and walked out on my front porch and happen to have three of the pros right in front of my place. It's really a treat to be able to see these guys at work. So far I have seen a few fish being caught and look for it to be a great day for the guys. The weather has turned out great and it looks to have brought the fans out as well.
I expect that the weigh-in will have a lot in store for us this afternoon. I really do not even have a guess as to what the weights will be, but from talking with a few of the guys they will be good with a lot of limits weighed. I do anticipate a tight leader board when the day is done though. Jordan Nichols
Introductions are in order
Hi, my name is Matt Pangrac and I will be a senior at OU, graduating with a degree in Communications. I am originally from Decatur, Ill., and came to the University of Oklahoma to play ice hockey for the Sooners.
During the past two years, I have fished Grand Lake a handful of times. I am looking forward to seeing how the Elite Series pros attack the water after the enormous amount of rain we have been experiencing here in Oklahoma.
My passion for fishing started when I was just 2-years-old. I would hang a rope over the edge of the basement staircase at my house and my dad would tie things like shoes, logs, or wooden fish on the end of the rope and let me haul up my catch.
I started fishing bass tournaments when I was 13, after attending the 1998 Bassmaster Classic in North Carolina, where I won the Bassmaster CastingKids National Championship for flipping, pitching, and casting accuracy. At the time, being able to meet my fishing heroes, like Denny Brauer and Rick Clunn, really had a lasting impact.
I am both excited and proud to be a part of the Sooner Bass Anglers. The ability to compete against other collegiate anglers who share the same passion for tournament bass fishing has really enhanced my college experience. Outside of the competition, collegiate bass fishing has led to great friendships which I'm sure will last a lifetime.
I am currently interning at Basszone.com, which is based out of Norman, Okla., just a few miles from the OU campus. With Basszone's on-location coverage of the Elite Series, I will have the opportunity to attend six stops on the Elite Series this year. Sooner Run has been circled on my calendar for a long time and I look forward to giving you a unique perspective of the event from a college bass angler.
Juice is loose
Hello, I am Jarrett "Juice" Morrison from Chelsea, Okla. I am a Sociology senior at the University of Oklahoma. I have been fishing since I was 4-years-old and grew up fishing farm ponds and coal pits on my family's land.
I just really enjoy being in the outdoors, whether it be fishing or hunting. It is my way of escaping from everything. I think that college bass fishing is a really cool deal, and the future for collegiate fishing looks bright.
I have really enjoyed fishing for the Sooner Bass Anglers over the past year. It has been a great experience fishing tournaments against other colleges across the U.S. and has made me a better fisherman.
I am excited that the Elite Series is coming to Grand Lake. The fact that I will be able to meet and watch pros like Edwin Evers, Gerald Swindle, and Kevin VanDam is something that I look forward to. I am always ready to learn new techniques and expand my versatility, especially from the best in the world.
Grand Lake is one of Oklahoma's best bass lakes and with the high water conditions now, the fishing patterns are going to change daily as the water drops. It will be interesting! I look forward to sharing my experience at the Elite Series tournament with you this upcoming weekend.
Word from the president
Hi, my name is Justin Hurd. I'm 22-years-old and from Dewey, Okla. I have been fishing since I could walk, and I have been fishing tournaments since I was 10.
I began fishing Fishin' Pals with my father, and when I turned 16, I began fishing regional and team tournaments with my father. Since then, I have been part of forming the University of Oklahoma bass fishing team. I currently serve as the club president.
The OU Fishing Team has been a dream of mine since I came to the University of Oklahoma in 2003. It wasn't until I met other fisherman as enthusiastic as I was that this dream became a reality.
Since our creation in September of 2006, our OU Bass Team has competed at the Collegiate National Championship, Arkansas Tech Invitational, and the Arkansas Invitational, where our team took the victory. Our upcoming college tournaments include the 2007 Collegiate National Championship, ESPN Smashmouth National Championship, and the Big 12 Invitational.
Grand Lake is my home waters and I practically grew up on the lake. I am really looking forward to welcoming the Elite Series pros back to Oklahoma!
From a fishing family
Hey, my name is Jordon Nichols. I am a junior majoring in business management at the University of Oklahoma. I began fishing competitively when I turned 3-years-old in a tournament with my father.
My parents gave me the choice to either have a party or go fish in the tournament, and I of course chose to go fish. I still fish on a weekly basis, whether it is competitive or just going out for fun.
I have grown up around boats and the lake my entire life. My family owns Nichols Marine, which consists of five boat dealerships around the country and is the local Triton Boat dealer for the region. I have had a strong love for the business and plan to stay in it in the future.
I'm really happy to see the Elite Series come back to Grand Lake again this year, and I'm really looking forward to watching these guys once again and hoping to learn from them.
Last year, I watched them fishing in spots I would have never thought to even stop and look at. What was even more interesting is that they were catching fish in these locations like it wasn't anything. It really is a treat to get to go out and be a spectator at these tournaments.
As far as the opportunity we have been given with the college fishing, it is probably one of the best ideas anyone has ever came up with. We all understand that we will not ever get the publicity that the major college sports like football, basketball, etc., receive, but that is not even what we are looking for.
This gives us the chance to go out and show our talents and become better anglers at the same time. While not all of us are planning to become a professional and go out on tour, there are several that do plan on giving it a shot. These are the guys that could very easily be in the field going head to head with the pros in the near future.
We all look forward to receiving feedback from readers. If there is anything you would like to see us check out, find out, or write about, feel free to drop us a comment. We would all love to hear from you.
If any of you are planning on attending the weigh-ins, don't be a stranger! We love to talk to fellow bass fisherman (unless you are a Texas Longhorn fan). BOOMER SOONER!
Note: The Sooner Bass Anglers would like to wish our teammate, Chip Porche', good luck at the Collegiate Match Fishing Championships this week on Lake Oneida in New York.
Chip was the driving force behind the development of the Sooner Bass Anglers and he really wanted to be at Sooner Run.
Go get em' Chip!