In arguably the most dominant win in Bassmaster history, the duo of Cole Sands and Conner Dimauro from Bryan College brought in a three day total of 84 lb 12 oz to win the 2020 Bassmaster College National Championship by an astonishing 25 pound 12-ounce margin. Their weight shattered the previous record of 72 lb 13 oz in a three-day College Series event. It also bested the overall three-day Bassmaster record for any event which was previously held by Byron Velvick with 83 lb 5 oz.
Sands and Dimauro came close to taking home the National Championship title last year on their home lake, Lake Chickamauga. They lead the first two days but ultimately lost the tournament by a pound during the last day of competition. The team of upperclassmen had no plans of making this year’s national championship as close as they went into the final day with a 15-pound lead. The anglers three day total of 84 lb 12 oz consisted of a 28 lb 7 oz, 27 lb 5 oz, and 29 lb bag.
The team’s practice was slow, only finding one good spot per day. However, one of those locations accounted for almost all of their three-day weight. Sands caught a six-pounder there in practice and left immediately with hopes to catch more there during the tournament. The spot consisted of a grass line with eel grass and hydrilla mixed in with a hard bottom adjacent to it.
Day one of the tournament started slow for the team but began to pick up as Sands boated a four-pounder after about 45 minutes of fishing. The team then hit a flurry which included two seven plus pound largemouth and two other five-pound fish. After culling out a small two-pounder with a five-pounder, the duo quit fishing at noon and went in early to weigh their fish in. Their day one weight of 28 lb 7 oz was good enough for first place with the closest team behind them weighing in 25 lb 1 oz.
The second day of the tournament started much quicker for Sands and Dimauro as they had all of their weight by 10:30 a.m. including a 7 pound 14 ounce Harris Chain of Lakes giant. The behemoth bit right under the boat and Sands winched the giant into the net with a 7’2” Heavy Voodoo II Witch Doctor Tackle rod. Knowing that they had a great bag of fish, the duo opted to run new water and save the rest of their fish for the final day of the event. The new water proved to hold fish, but only produced 3 and 4 pounders which were not big enough to cull. After a few more hours of fishing, Sands and Dimauro decided to weigh in early again in order to keep their fish healthy. Their day two weight of 27 lb 5 oz gave them a two day total of 55 lb 12 oz and a 15 lb 1 oz lead over second.
Even with a big lead going into day three, the duo had no plans of slowing down. Sands stated before blastoff, “We’re going to lean on them today. It felt horrible to get beat by a pound on the last day of last year’s National Championship. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Sands and Dimauro sealed the deal as they brought in 29 lb’s on the final day to take home the 2020 Bassmaster College National Championship and break multiple Bassmaster records.
Sands relied on two of the same Witch Doctor Tackle rods to do all of his damage. The setup was a 7’2” Heavy Witch Doctor Tackle Voodoo II rod paired with a 6th Sense Fishing plum melon ridge worm on the back of a ¾ oz Carolina rig. The other setup was the same model rod with a ¾ ounce football jig. Sands stated, “When catching giants like we did this week, I needed a rod that I could trust to get a good hook set in these fish. A lot of them would bite a long way away from the boat and I lost very few fish this week.”