Team fishing together for the last time seals deal with 11-pounder in last hour
Jacob Andrews’ first experience fishing a college bass tournament with Connor Nimrod — the 2021 Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation College State Championship on March 14— was an eye-opener.
With five bass estimated at 19 pounds in the livewell late in the tournament, the team went looking for “hawgs,” the big girls, on beds at Caney Lake. Nimrod, a Kansas native, got the big bite and set the hook. Andrews turned to look and was aghast at the sight of an unhappy 11-pound bass connected by 8-pound fluorocarbon to, get this, a spinning outfit.
“It was ridiculous. I was thinking like, ‘What are you doing? Down here we use 20-pound line for those big fish,’” said Andrews, a Monroe native.
“That was the most nervous I have ever been. I couldn’t use a net in this tournament, so I knew I was responsible for grabbing the fish, getting her in the boat. All I felt was relief when I had my fist on it.
“I was, like, ‘Did that just happen?’ We tried to guess the weight. We couldn’t. I never even saw a bass that big. We went to whooping and hollering and carrying on. We said if anybody beats us they deserve it. We knew we had around 30 pounds.”
College state title
To be exact, the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s fishing team members had 29.88 pounds, more than enough to top the 36-team field representing nine state colleges and universities. The 11-pound bass was the biggest of the day.
The nearest challenger was the ULM team of Wesley Banks and Luke O’Neal, with 21.60 pounds, followed by LSU’s Taylor Knowles and Hunter Walker with 19.88 pounds, including a 9.27-pound beauty, and Louisiana Tech’s Landon Meyer and Cooper Arthur with 18.99 pounds.
The effort marked the highlight of their college fishing careers for Andrews, a senior, and Nimrod, a junior from De Soto, Kansas. It also propelled ULM to the Bassmaster Series College National Championship, a prestigious contest set later this year.
“That tournament that we won was the first tournament we fished together. We started off with a good note, I’d say,” Andrews said.
Nimrod, who was a freshman when he and teammate Morgan Jalaldin won the YETI FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Tournament in 2019 on Lake Texoma, said, “That win over there at Caney probably was the best one. The home crowd (ULM fans) was over there at Caney.”
Nimrod, a 21-year-old junior majoring in business marketing, is no stranger to big wins. He was a DeSoto High School senior when he and his younger brother, Dylan, won the 2018 Kansas B.A.S.S. Nation High School State Championship on Milford Lake.
Still, this one was special for a collegiate bass angler who has fished competitively ever since Rodney Kirk, who worked at Bass Pro Shops in Olathe, Kansas, invited him and his father, Steve Nimrod, to a youth bass club meeting. Nimrod was 7 or 8 at the time, he said.
“I liked the guys, and I just started fishing,” he said.
He continued fishing and competed in bass tournaments the four years he attended De Soto High School. He also traveled to Toledo Bend several times to fish high school Opens.
“I liked that part of the country,” he said.
A good fit
His interest piqued, he looked at the university near Monroe. He toured the campus and made an easy decision.
“It was a nice fit. I’m not a person who liked a big college,” he said.
Nimrod, who works part-time at EK’s Marine in West Monroe, didn’t get a scholarship.
“I wish I was that fortunate,” he said, noting that he had several academic scholarships and joined ULM’s fishing team as a freshman.
While prefishing one day for the state tournament, Nimrod nailed a 35-pound limit with the biggest a 10.48-pound, his personal best, until the state tournament.
He and Andrews pulled up to their first spot, some offshore grass, and immediately began catching keeper bass on a Chatterbait. They had their five-bass limit, estimated at 12 to 13 pounds, before 9 a.m., he said.
Kicker: 11 pounds
“We realized we needed to cull up a lot, so we went looking for bed fish. We culled everything we had with bed fish, and it started to come down to the wire,” Nimrod told the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper. “It was 2 p.m., and we were due in at 3, so we went looking for one more big bite in an area I knew big ones spawned historically. We eased back up in the pocket, and there were no other boats around, to our surprise.
“We looked for a little while until we finally saw her sitting on a bed in the middle of the pocket. The fish looked like a dang submarine she was so big.”
The “hawg” bit on a drop-shotted 3-inch albino-colored Megabass Spark Shad.
“It only took four to five flips in there,” he said. “The cast before I caught her, I wanted to make sure (she wanted to bite). I let her swim off, and she dropped it. I cast again. I wanted to make sure she had the whole thing.”
He set the hook, and the fight was on.
Andrews timed the fight at 5 minutes.
“He was scared. He said, ‘Don’t break her off! Don’t break her off!’ (In Kansas), we’re accustomed to 8-pound line, fluorocarbon,” Nimrod said. “I had barely got her (hooked) in the tip of the nose.”
That was enough to make a huge difference in the outcome.
What’s in his future after one more year with ULM?
“I’d really like to be able to make it big time. I’m going to fish one year of (Bassmaster) Opens when I graduate and see where it goes from there,” he said.
Andrews, 22, who has a semester left before graduating with a degree in criminal justice, cherishes the memories from four years of bass fishing with ULM.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve made some of my best friends on this team. Some of the best memories of my life are from this team,” he said.
A graduate of Ouachita Parish High School, his other top career finishes were fourth with Luke O’Neal at a 2019 FLW qualifier at Lake Texoma and fourth with Taylor Kolb in March 2020 at Table Rock in Missouri.
Andrews started bass fishing in elementary school with his grandfather, the late Ray Andrews, he said, and he later took his father, Greg Andrews.
Fishing with Nimrod has been rewarding, he said.
“Ah, he’s cool. He teaches me a lot of stuff he uses in Kansas that we don’t normally use in Louisiana,” he said, particularly light tackle.
As for the future, Andrews said, “After I graduate ,I hope to maybe pick up a few sponsors and fish some (Bassmaster) Opens and BFLs and work my way up to being a professional angler. That’s my hope.”