When Kyle Alsop was looking for colleges that would fit his needs, his first priority wasn’t academics.
He wanted a school that had a strong bass fishing team.
That led him to Kansas State, a decision he has never regretted. He is getting a good education in mechanical engineering, and just as important, he has a shot at attaining his dream — making the Bassmaster Classic as a collegiate fisherman.
Alsop, who is from Overland Park, is competing with his partner, Taylor Bivins, in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship this week at Lake DuBay near Stevens Point, Wis. The tournament, which features 85 teams from 60 colleges, started Thursday and will run through Saturday. The top eight individual finishers will move on to square off in a bracket-style competition Sunday and Monday, with the individual champion decided Tuesday.
The winner will win a berth in the Bassmaster Classic, the crown jewel of pro bass fishing.
Does Alsop have a chance? Well, let’s put it this way: He is ranked third nationally among collegiate fishermen — based on showings in Bassmaster, FLW, and BoatUS collegiate tournaments.
“Somebody’s dream will come true this week,” said Alsop, 21.
Alsop is hoping he will be the one hoisting the trophy. Since he was just a kid, this has been his dream. He started fishing bass tournaments with his dad, well-known local fisherman, Tom Alsop, before the training wheels were off his bike.
“I don’t remember much about it, but my dad took me with him when I was 3 years old to fish in the Rogers Little Buddy Bass Tournament at Smithville,” he said.
Since then, the father and son duo have fished together in many tournaments and done well.
“I’ve learned just about everything I know about bass fishing from my dad,” Alsop said. “He never pushed me. But I always wanted to be out there with him.”
Now Alsop enters a tournament with two goals: to win the team competition with Bivins and to take the individual championship. One other team of Kansas State fishermen — Sheldon Rogge and Lance Maldonado — also will be competing.
Both teams know it won’t be easy. Lake DuBay is fishing tough. Bass are scattered and unpredictable right now, Alsop said. But he is focused on what may be the biggest tournament of his life.
“I’d give anything to win this,” he said. “But I know a lot of other guys are saying the same thing.”
High water, high hopes for future
In the short run, the high water this spring and summer has caused headaches for fishermen at Smithville, Truman, Lake of the Ozarks, Tuttle Creek and other area reservoirs.
But in the future, fishermen may look at the Floods of 2015 as a blessing.
“High water generally is a good thing in terms of the survival of fry,” said Jake Allman, a fisheries biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Survival rates are up because there is so much more cover for the young-of-the-year fish to hide in.
“You can gauge that by what we see at the reservoirs in southern Missouri. Their best bass fishing takes place three years after the high-water years. That’s when that large year-class of bass grow to be adult size.”
That’s not the only advantage of the high water, Allman said.
“We generally see a good shad spawn, too,” he said. “After a high-water year, we’ll have good year-classes of baitfish.”
Teal seasons set
Duck hunters, it’s time to circle some dates on your calendars.
The early teal seasons have been set in Missouri and Kansas. In both states, the dates will run from Sept. 12 through Sept. 27. The only exception is the Kansas High Plains Zone, where the season will be Sept. 19-27.
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@fishboybrent.