BEMIDJI — Thor and Mitch Swanson know they have a lot of work left to do, but Thursday was a big leap in the right direction.
By reeling in five bass totalling 15 pounds, 12 ounces on day one of the Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Thursday, the Bemidji State brothers cemented their spot in the middle of contention for a title.
“After today, I’m really happy,” Thor Swanson said. “Our main goal today was to keep ourselves in it. You can’t win the tournament on day one, but you can sure lose it. We didn’t lose today, so going out tomorrow and catching a couple is our goal.”
The Swanson brothers were fifth in line to weigh in among the 89 teams, and their total was the golden standard for most of the afternoon. They were ultimately dethroned by Jacob Foutz and Jake Lee of Bryan College (Tenn.), who vaulted into the late lead with a four-fish, 16-pound, 6-ounce haul.
Still, though, Thor and Mitch Swanson are a pound ahead of third-place Cole Floyd and Cartner McNeil of Bethel University (Tenn.). They’re also 3 pounds, 6 ounces in front of 12th, the final spot that will qualify for the third and final day of competition.
“It’s kinda exciting with how today went. I wasn’t really expecting that,” Mitch Swanson said. “But (I’m) nervous to see how tomorrow goes… Tomorrow we’re gonna have to put our heads down and keep fishing no matter what.”
The other Bemidji State duo — Robbie Troje and Luke Gillund — didn’t fare as well as their Bemidji State teammates. Their three fish, totalling 6 pounds, 1 ounce, placed them in a tie for 46th after day one of the competition. They sit close behind Aaron Belgard and Logan Laprarie of Northwestern State University (La.), who reeled in just one bass weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces — but it was the biggest in the field.
Only the Foutz-Lee tandem was able to top the Swansons on day one, though, which puts the BSU representatives in good shape heading into today’s round that begins at 6 a.m. with weigh-in at 2:30 p.m. And the reason for their success?
“No secrets,” Thor Swanson said. “We had a good area today, but we pretty much fished it dry. We don’t know yet what the plan is for tomorrow really. Hopefully there’s a couple there to get lucky… One bite, one fish in the boat, I’ll be happy. Anything after that is just icing on the cake.”
“We were kinda doing everything that everybody else was doing,” Mitch Swanson added. “I don’t know if we were throwing different lures in there or different colors, but for some reason we seemed to get a little better quality bites than everybody else.”
And so, still needing another solid day in order to reach the finals, the duo is hopeful to stay atop the leaderboard.
“It’s gonna be a lot tougher than today,” said Thor.
Mitch agreed. “We’re just gonna have to get the mindset that any cast out there can get a bite.”