“It was incredible to say the least,” Vielhauer said. “I have always looked up to the previous champions that have come from K-State, such as Kyle Alsop. I knew as I grew up that I wanted to be able to represent K-State as well as they did. BASS gives the College Series this incredible opportunity to weigh in on the biggest stage in bass fishing. I couldn’t even believe all the emotions that went through my head as I stood on stage and hoisted that trophy in front of thousands of fans.”
Perhaps most notable about this victory is the way Vielhauer qualified to compete in the Bassmaster College Classic.
Vielhauer and teammate Remington Wagner finished second in the BASS High School Open last March on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri to qualify for the high school division at the Bassmaster Classic, but since they graduated in May they were allowed to move up to the college division. Wagner, who now attends Hutchinson County Community College, fished solo at the College Classic while Vielhauer picked Andrie, who hails from Waco, Texas, and is a freshman on this year’s K-State team, to be his teammate. Wagner finished in ninth place in the college division.
“I want to continue advancing to the national level tournaments, with my ultimate goal being to win another national championship title to bring back to K-State,” Vielhauer said. “I couldn’t have gotten their without all the support from the team sponsors, personal sponsors, family and Ozawkie Boats for putting me in one of their Phoenix boats in South Carolina.”
Kick Back Bass Club’s Trevor Whisenant and Brett Lasley took first at the open to also qualify for the High School Classic. They took seventh place, with Tommy Floyd Jr. and James Gibbons of South Florence High School taking first. Since Vielhauer and Wagner were moved up to the college division, Kansas BASS Nation was allowed the opportunity to take another team to the high school competition. The team of Garrett Torres and Jayden Vosseller, also representing Kick Back, won the qualifier and finished in sixth place at the Bassmaster High School Classic.
Vielhauer, a freshman at K-State, came up through the Kansas BASS Nation’s youth system and fished in high school for the Kick Back Club while attending Shawnee Mission Northwest. KBN youth director Richard Heflin said they were all “extremely excited” that Vielhauer’s team won the Classic.
“I think starting in the youth program and then going into the high school program has played a huge role in preparing me for college fishing,” Vielhauer said. “Growing up in each of those programs allowed me to begin to travel and meet friends from around the country. It has also given me the opportunity to network myself and try to make a name for myself. On the competitive aspect it gave me the knowledge of what tournament fishing is and how the whole system works.”
The conditions during practice at Lake Keowee were quite different from those of the tournament. During the first day of practice, which was on a Wednesday, Vielhauer said it was cold and windy with temperatures in the upper 40s to low 50s. He said the temperature raised slightly on Thursday, but there was still a lot of wind.
“Coming from Kansas, Will Andrie and I are used to the cold, but some of the other competitors thought it was pretty cold,” Vielhauer said. “On tournament day, it was upper 60s and into the 70s by the end of the day and very little wind. The high sun on tournament day helped to concentrate our fish under the docks in the shade, so we were able to catch them easier.
“Our pattern that we found in practice stayed steady throughout practice and all came together for the tournament. Will and I predicted with the warming weather the fish were going to be coming right to where we were fishing.”
The conditions led to extremely clear water on tournament day, so they used a finesse presentation to target the bass under the docks.
“We were mainly using Senko (worms) rigged weightless, as well as 3/16-ounce finesse jigs,” Vielhauer said, “on very light line in the incredibly clear water.”
They also had a chance to drop in and watch as Jordan Lee, a former college angler, made history during the three-day Bassmaster Classic, winning his second straight Classic title after bagging a three-day total of 47 pounds, 1 ounce to beat Brent Ehrler by a pound on Lake Hartwell.
“Will and I had a pre-tournament meeting on Friday and then we had the option of more pre-fishing or going to the Classic Expo,” Vielhauer said. “We felt good about our game plan, so we chose to go to the expo. The expo is insane. It is one of the largest conventions for the bass fishing industry. It is a great opportunity to get the K-State fishing team name out there and to do some networking with sponsors. We also went to the Elite Series weigh-in each day before we went back to the hotel to prepare for tournament day.”
BIG BASS BASH — The Wildcats will host their 2018 Big Bash Fundraiser Tournament on April 28 at Perry Reservoir. The event will feature a $1,000 guaranteed big bass payout, and $2,000 will be paid out in cash and prizes based on a 50-boat field — last year’s tournament drew 40 boats.
The tournament will pay out for the top three bass weighed in during four weigh-in periods: 7 to 9 a.m., 9 to 11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Each angler can weigh in one fish per period for all four periods.
For more information about Kansas State’s Big Bass Bash, visit the team’s website www.ksufishingteam.com or the Kansas State Fishing Team Facebook page.