Anyone that has fished a major tournament knows how hard a top 20 can be. Back in 2016, Jake Marshall of the West Virginia University bass fishing team finished #12 at the FLW Collegiate National Championship. We talk to Jake about his time on the WVU team.
What made you get involved with collegiate bass fishing?
One of the reasons I decided to attend WVU was due to the fact they had a college fishing team. I’ve always loved fishing competitively and wanted to take it to the next level.
I enjoyed everything about the experience! I enjoyed the friendships that will last a lifetime, the competition, drives through the night to get across the country, the nights rigging up with everyone at the hotel. Its all missed more than you can imagine, I would do anything to make another tournament.
What does the WVU team consider their home bodies of water for practicing around Morgantown?
The main home bodies of water would have to be Cheat Lake and Stonewall Jackson Lake. Cheat Lake was always fun to fish because it was close in distance and had lots of numbers of fish. Stonewall Jackson Lake was another great bass fishery because of the size of the bass in it. It ranked top 100 lakes in the country and was fun to fish because of the overwhelming amount of timber.
What were some of the challenges and toughest parts of being a college angler?
There are many challenges to being a college angler and the biggest was funds and money. Tournaments cost a substantial amount of money especially for hotel and gas. The second would be missing class time, and having to find ways to make assignments/exams up. Another difficult one was boat storage on campus.
2016 was your senior season I believe. You had a lot of success. What were the highlights of the season prior to the National Championship?
The highlights to the season were catching smallmouth on beds and flukes at Smith Mountain Lake finishing 6th and qualifying for the conference championship on the upper Chesapeake Bay.
We placed 9th on the Chesapeake Bay by catching even more smallies using flukes and jerkbaits! What made the tournament at the Chesapeake Bay standout was that we were the only team that weighed in all smallmouth and the fact that we were able to stay with my family because we lived an hour away! It had special meaning being able to qualify for the National Championship surrounded by family and friends. Being able to do well in both tournaments is a highlight because now FLW doesn’t even have Regional Qualifiers you automatically qualify from any tournament.
You got to the National Championship at Lake Keowee. Who was your partner? What were your thoughts going into the tournament?
Matthew Combs. My thoughts going into this tournament were clear water, water temperature, and time of year. All of these things spelled out bed fishing to us and that’s exactly what the tournament was. We worked very hard to find as many fish on beds as we could but in the end some pulled off due to weather and timing. I knew this tournament would be a awesome opportunity for us make a run at things and that’s exactly what we did!
You finished #12 which is an awesome finish. What were your keys to success over the two days of fishing?
Keys to success were patience and teamwork. It takes two people working together to be successful in college fishing even with bedfishing. The key pattern for us was fishing bedding fish in the then 8 feet of water. The key bait for us was a pink trick worm wacky rigged.
There are always some would’ve, could’ve should’ve moments. What were yours for this tournament?
Some things we wish would’ve been done were have a few of the bigger fish we marked on beds stay around that extra day. We had a few docks with some big bass that either weren’t quite ready or were moving off their bed. This could’ve impacted the tournament because it challenged us to keep moving to other marked spots and having the patience to work those fish. This made a difference by landing a few quality fish that moved us up the leaderboard. I don’t believe looking back that there was anything Matt or I wish we should’ve done different, we fished hard all the way through till the end.
Overall, what do you consider your favorite bass fishing waters in West Virginia for smallmouth or largemouth?
Cheat Lake. It is special because with it being so close to campus we are able to fish is frequently. Cheat lake is a fishery that offers a lot of different species of fish so when we were not strictly bass fishing we could get our friends together and go out and catch some bluegill, crappie and perch to have a fish fry!
Are you still tournament fishing?
I am not tournament fishing currently. I still bass fish as frequently as I can but at the moment I do not have a bass boat and am focusing on my new job in my field.
Thank you Jake!
Jake can be followed on Instagram @j_marsh27.