Final Time Around for The Hoosier Duo

2013 FLW NC

The Hoosier Duo of Dustin Vaal and Steven Bressler are fishing their last college tournament, and what better than to do it at Beaver Lake home of the 2013 FLW College National Championship.

Day two of the tournament started this morning, and while the waters are cold and clear the boys have the fight to finish strong. After a day 1 weight of 13 lbs, the duo is in 7th place leading Nicholas Schuetz & Elliott Myers of Purdue who sit in 8th place. Standing in their way are Logan Johnson & Dustin Connell of Alabama, and Jordan Lee & Shane Powell of Auburn. With the Tides A-Day today hopefully Johnson & Connell will be a bit more distracted. I’d say the same for the Auburn duo,  but well… difficult to say.

Results can be found here for days 1-3, as well as the morning headline from day 1 featuring the Indiana crew.  Via FLW

Video weigh-in’s can be seen live here starting at 4pm eastern.

We wish them the best of luck in days two and three. Go rip lips guys!

Hoosiers Conquer the Old Man River

The FLW Summer Central Tournaments wrapped up in Lacrosse, Wisconsin on the Mississippi River. A few days before the event, Hoosier angler Derrick Hoffman needed a partner; it just so worked out that Sean Gillenwater was free and able to fish the tournament. The Hoosier duo has never fished the Mississippi River, and went into the event with no practice, but they did their homework.  As many of us student anglers hate to hear it, the homework actually paid off, literally. The duo won the event with a 3 bass bag weighting 10 pounds 10 ounces bringing home winnings of $5,000, as well as a birth to the central conference championship to fish beside their Hoosier teammates of Dustin Vaal and Steven Bressler. Like many anglers, frogging techniques are a favorite go-to when lily pads are spotted. Hoffman said, “Both Sean and I are power fisherman and I knew the frog bite would be strong and play into our strengths. Once I broke it down this fished a lot like my home lake.” If anyone has fished with Sean, or knows his strengths, it is with a frog. Sean says, “I wasn’t going to fish the tournament, but then a few of the bass club members convinced me to fish saying that it would be a frog tournament which happens to be my strength. I love to frog fish and this was a blast. You don’t get a frog bite like this back home. This is just an awesome fishery; I really hope that I get to come back.”  Knowing that this technique was their strength, the duo was more than eager to get on the water and start walking the frogs. They would like to thank their sponsors, especially Solar Bat Sunglasses and Local Hooker Rods.

The central regional will take place September 6th - 8th on Lake Carlyle in Illinois. The Hoosier’s will bring two teams to the event, the duo of Derrick Hoffman and Sean Gillenwater, and Steven Bressler and Dustin Vaal who received a birth early in the summer. Derrick Hoffman is familiar with Lake Carlyle; in fact he knows it very well. Hoffman said, “I am really excited to have qualified for the Central Conference Championship. I won 3rd place in the state championship when I was a senior in high school at Lake Carlyle so I have a lot of confidence going into the tournament.” We hope that the Hoosiers’ confidence will hold strong and bring the Hoosiers back to the National Championship for the fourth year straight.

For full results on the Mississippi, click here.

Graduation doesn’t Mean the End for This Hoosier Duo

The Hoosier duo of Dustin Vaal and Steven Bressler drove south to fish their beloved Kentucky Lake, in hopes of capturing the biggest bag and taking home the grand prize of $5,000, which comes with a birth to the central conference championship in September. The duo finished in 2nd place taking home $1,500 and a birth to the central conference championship. Kentucky Lake is known for having some monster bass, and Dustin Vaal knows that all too well. While moving to their secondary area, nicknamed the ‘big bass hole’ Vaal states, “we moved to our big bass hole, where I proceeded to lose one well over 7 lbs.” Even though losing that fish could have dampened the day, the duo held their heads high knowing that they were still in a good position due to their days of practice. Vaal states, “We had a great 3 days of practice catching fish in 25 feet of water out of brush piles. Every day we would catch 18 to 20 lbs. and after three days we had a good milk run prepared.” Even though the 40 mile run to the dam did not produce any fish due to other teams being in the area, the duo did a great job, and even though they did not grab the biggest bag, Vaal said, “We still love the heck out of Kentucky Lake.”

To see the full results. Click Here. 

A Farewell on Lake Lemon

This past Sunday marked the last club tournament for IU bass this year. It took place on Lake Lemon not too far from Bloomington. With the tournament being moved back to the weekend before finals, many of us saw this as a way to get away from the books and rip some lips on the lake. With varying weather temperatures and days of rain, sun, and cloudy conditions, it was up for grabs on where they fish would be.

With the last cast of the day junior Bryce Amberg caught his last fish, giving him the win for the day with 7.06 pounds. “I thought I would get a bite on top water, but I wasn’t having any luck so I decided to try out a jig and right away I had two keepers. That’s when I decided that I would stick with the jig for the rest of the day,” said Bryce Amberg. It seems like his favorite technique, “whatever is working for the day” paid off. Once again, the black and blue color combo reigned, and with some finessing around the lily pads, grass, rocks, and sticks the fish were being caught. Final weigh in weights were as followed

1. Bryce Amberg – 7.09 lbs.

2. Sean Gillenwater – 6.15 lbs.

3. (tie) Steven Bressler – 6.08 lbs. (Big Bass 5.01 lbs.), and Derrick Hoffman 6.08 lbs.

4. Chris Weiss – 5.04 lbs.

5. Zach Wojtowicz – 4.13 lbs.

As the weigh in dwindled to an end we said goodbye to our seniors Zach Wojtowicz, Dustin Vaal, Derrick Vaal, Steven Bressler, Clint Shireman, Chris Weiss, Michael Hackman, Chris Sweany, and Brady Phillippi. We will miss their company, stories, and knowledge. But next year is around the corner, their curly blonde locks, Chatterbait attacks, prop washes, and stories will be with us as we start a new season. IU Bass seniors, keep your lines tight, and keep rippin’ lips.

Bressler and Vaal Compete at National Championship


After starting the FLW College Fishing National Championship at Lake Murray, SC off strong, the Hoosier duo of Dustin Vaal and Steven Bressler came back to Indiana finishing in 15th. Although it isn’t quite the finish that the Hoosiers wanted, it is still a great place to be going into next year. Dustin Vaal mentioned that the IU Bass Fishing Club has been in the national spotlight for some time now, and with a finish like that we are poised and ready to continue fishing at the highest levels.

Steven Bressler said of the event: “We had a great day on the first day. We were pretty much just running wind-blown points all day and throwing flukes and swimbaits.” Dustin added that it was unlike any lake they had fished before because the water was so clear and the primary forage was Blueback Herring. “If the wind wasn’t blowing you might back off the points and catch one on a shakey head,” said Vaal, “but to catch fish you had to find the herring.” The Hoosier Anglers filled their limit on day one with a bag that weighed in at 13-15, which tied them for 9th and put them in contention for the day three cut. Unfortunately, the duo ran into a dead-calm morning on the second day and struggled to catch in Murray’s gin clear water. They brought one fish that weighed 1lb even to the weigh in and missed the day three cut.

Win or lose, we are proud of everything our Hoosiers have accomplished, like qualifying for the national championship three years in a row, and producing a total of six FLW All-American titles for our club. Well done, fellas.

Bressler and Vaal are currently gearing up for the next round of FLW College tournaments, the first of which is on Kentucky Lake in a few short weeks.


To see the full results from the tournament, click here.

Collier Conquers Monroe

IU’s first club tournament of the spring season at Bloomington’s Lake Monroe started off slow, with many of the Hoosiers waiting out a storm in their cars the morning of the event. The forecast for the tournament was projected to be bright and sunny all day, but a surprise thunder storm had blown through that morning, and there was another storm on the radar and would be arriving the same time the Hoosier anglers would be departing. After an hour of waiting the club President, Zack Wojtowicz, checked the radar, and declared the lake safe.

After the storms had gone through, junior Josh Collier reigned supreme with a limit of bass weighing 16.58 pounds. “I knew that storm would probably push the shallow fish out to four to six feet,” Collier said of his winning strategy. “That’s where I fished all day and it really paid off.”

Josh, and the majority of people who brought fish to the weigh-in caught them on a Spro Little John MD in Spring Craw color. The final results from the weigh-in were as follows:

  1. Josh Collier- 16.58
  2. Zack Wojtowicz- 10.06 lbs.
  3. Dustin Vaal- 9.17 lbs. (6-6 big bass)
  4. Seven Bressler- 7.70 lbs.
  5. Derrick Hoffman- 7.42 lbs.
  6. Sean Gillenwater- 6.12 lbs.
  7. Drew Alberts- 3.63 lbs.
  8. Matt Skinner- 3.56 lbs.
  9. Corey Underwood- 2.40 lbs.

The rest of the Hoosiers caught fish throughout the day, but couldn’t find the size they needed to bring them in.

The next club tournament is scheduled for April 29th on Lake Lemon.

March is Madness for IU Fishing

We have had an unusually warm spring here in the Hoosier State, and with that the IU Bass Club has been on the move since the beginning of March — Fishing tournaments around the nation and practicing for others. Our own kind of March Madness.

Guntersville, AL
The first stop for the Hoosiers was the Carhartt College BASS South Super Regional on Lake Guntersville on March 9-10th. Despite having a rough start for their first day on the water, Zack Wojtowicz and Clint Shireman led the led the three IU teams to 39th place with 14-4. “We had a bad morning,” Wojtowicz joked on stage at the weigh-in, “30 seconds into our first run our rod buckle broke and we lost two rods and our net. Then we got to our first spot and I hooked into a turtle.”

Despite being in contention to make the cut for the national championship, the Hoosiers couldn’t deliver on the second day of the tournament. Sophomore Derrick Hoffman said that they were on good fish in practice but just couldn’t get the bites that they needed to do well. “It was great to fish a legendary like like Guntersville despite our finish,” said Hoffman.

Table Rock, MO
After pulling their boat out of the water in Alabama, Chris Weiss and Sean Gillenwater proved how dedicated they were to the team by driving eleven hours to the the FLW event on Table Rock just 12 hours before take off. The tournament was originally scheduled for March 3rd but had to be rescheduled due to a tornado that blew through the week before the original date.

“We got to the ramp an our before the take off, and ended up catching our limit early on a jerkbait and wiggle wart,” Gillenwater, a junior, said. It rained all day on tournament day, and despite the tough conditions the Hoosiers finished 9th, narrowly missing the cut to move on to the FLW Central Regional Tournament. Senior Chris Weiss was impressed with Table Rock saying “It was an awesome Lake. We caught Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spots. I’ve never been on a like like that. We just couldn’t find a big bite to make the top five.”

Geist Reservoir, IN
Every March, Ball State’s Bass club hosts a tournament for all of the college bass clubs in the state, called the “Icebox.” This year’s Icebox was the biggest in the history of the tournament. IU, Purdue, Ball State, Notre Dame and Vincennes all came to compete on March 25th. In the end Purdue was able to protect their title, and keep the traveling trophy- A cooler painted with all the school’s logos.

IU finished second, followed by Ball State in 3rd, Vincennes in 4th and Notre Dame in 5th place. All the teams brought fish to the weigh-in and were able to grind it out all day to find a few keepers. “I don’t think anyone had any trouble finding fish, but not many people found keepers. We were fortunate to find a few quality fish around rocks with plastics,” said freshman Tyler Trout, who had a strong showing for his second tournament with a bag that weighed 5-10.

Lake Murray, SC

During spring break, Dustin Vaal and Steve Bressler drove down to Lake Murray to practice for a week so that they will have a better understanding of the fishery before they embark in the FLW National Championship in April. The Duo said that Murray fishes a lot different than any of the reservoirs that we have around southern Indiana, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to fish it. We have faith in our two Hoosier sons that no matter what body of water they are put on, they will find a way to figure the fish out.

“It should be a fun tournament. I caught the biggest bass of my life (a 7-15 toad) while we were practicing down there,” said Bressler, and then joked “I’d like to give more information, but FLW Magazine labeled us as a team to watch, so some competitors might be watching this site.”

Make sure to tune in on FLW Live each day during the weigh in and support the Hoosier anglers. The National Championship will be April 14-15.

How It All Began

In recent years, as the sport of college fishing has exploded in popularity, a lesser-known fact in the college fishing world has bubbled to the surface – Indiana University started it all. That’s right, basketball isn’t the only sport steeped in tradition in Bloomington. It all started on a blistery November day in 1968. Well, sort of.

The IU club founder, Stephen Lutz, was fresh out of college when he sent a trophy bass to a taxidermist in Alabama. He then received an invitation from Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., to fish the Dixie Invitational at Smith Lake in Alabama from November 14-16, 1968. The idea of a fishing tournament fascinated Mr. Lutz, so he decided to go. It was at Smith Lake where Lutz witnessed and rode in his first bass boat and was able to fish alongside legends such as Ray Scott, Tom Mann of Mann’s Bait Company, and a young furniture salesman from Tennessee who won the event, Bill Dance. On the drive back home Mr. Lutz thought of what a great idea it would be to add collegiate fishing to the list of sports that are offered at that level of competition. Lutz left for the Air Force two months after the Dixie Invitational, but the idea of college fishing never left his mind.

Some time went by before Stephen found a niche and was able to make the first step of his dream a reality. Mr. Lutz landed a job as a professor at Indiana University, where he continued to toy with the idea of a fishing team until the first meeting of the first college bass club was held on February 10, 1987 with eight members. And just like that, collegiate fishing was born. A year later, the IU Fishing team boasted 50 members and was active in the community, raising funds for public access improvements on Lake Lemon and holding fishing seminars for the Bloomington Boy’s Club.

The first club tournament was held on April 17, 1988. “It was a humble beginning,” Lutz said of the event, “I would take one student at a time in my boat while the other students stood and fished on the bank at Lake Monroe, and every 30 minutes, I would go back to the ramp and trade students.”

It wasn’t long before word got out about the club. Mr. Lutz began receiving congratulations in the form of handwritten letters from legends like Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston, who wrote “Maybe someday it will be more common to have a fishing team as well as football, basketball, soccer, etc.” However, this was only the beginning for Mr. Lutz. In 1968, he dreamed of schools being pitted against each other on the water, just the same way they were on football fields or basketball courts. Lutz and the IU club president, Lance Pyle, reached out to other Big Ten schools and struck gold with Shad Schenk, a student at Purdue University, and the first president of their fishing club.

On April 18, 1992 IU and Purdue made history on Lake Monroe by competing in the first ever intercollegiate bass fishing tournament, “The Old Minnow Bucket”. The name of the event is a take on “The Old Oaken Bucket”, the title given to the football game the two schools play against each other.

The Indiana Bass Federation provided boat drivers, since none of the students had their own fishing boat. One of the Federation drivers, Jeff Schroer, said of the event “It was a cold, overcast, blustery spring day. Spinnerbaits seemed to be the only thing we could get any action on. Color didn’t matter, as long as it kept the fisherman moving if for no other reason to ward off the chill.” Schroer mentioned that he was glad his son had the opportunity to fish in college, and continued on to say “I would have loved to have had an opportunity like this when I was in school, but Ray Scott probably wasn’t even thinking about organized bass fishing then.” Needless to say, Schroer and the other Federation drivers were honored to participate in the tournament, as well as the banquet the night before and the awards ceremony. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, Purdue anglers managed to put three more pounds in their live wells and the first ever Minnow Bucket was awarded to the Boilermakers to keep for the next year. Chancellor Herman Wells awarded the Minnow Bucket with a short speech, saying “Sixty-seven years ago, I was present when the first Old Oaken Bucket was presented… I’m happy to be here to inaugurate a healthy new tradition between the two universities. I congratulate the Purdue Fishing Team for their victory and Mr. Stephan Lutz of IU for his vision, perseverance, and dedication in establishing fishing competition at the University level.”

Soon after the first Minnow Bucket, the two college clubs started getting local and national recognition from BASS Times, amongst other publications. It wasn’t long before other schools started to take note, and form fishing clubs of their own. Unfortunately, Mr. Lutz’s dream of an NCAA sport has not yet been realized, but other organizations like FLW and College BASS have stepped in to help propel the sport of college fishing into a nationally known sport, and provide schools the chance to fish against each other in large scale tournaments.

To all those anglers who participate in and enjoy the sport of college bass fishing, it is safe to say that we all owe Mr. Lutz, who is now retired and living in Illinois, a debt of gratitude for never losing site of his dream from 1968.

“The Old Minnow Bucket” 2011


It was the kind of day where 30-mile-an-hour winds were making an already choppy body of water covered with whitecaps even rougher. The sort of day where if you were lucky enough to find fish, you had to do battle with the wind.  To make it more intense, the tournament that the IU fishing team found themselves in was pitted against their bitter rival, Purdue.

“The Old Minnow Bucket” is the oldest intercollegiate fishing tournament in the nation, dating back to time itself…or at least back to the mid-nineties. Although both teams are very civil towards one another, and many anglers have more than one friend on the other team, during the tournament we could cut the tension with a knife.

Many of the IU team members had gone up the day before the tournament to pre-fish, and had found that Lake Waveland seemed to be a difficult lake to fish in the fall, despite its small size. There was not  a lot of typical cover to fish, no long points, no stumps to pitch to, and only a few lay downs. Only a few people caught fish in practice, but by the time tournament day rolled around, the wind had moved the bait, and in turn moved the bass from the spots where IU had found them. The majority of the fish caught during competition came on white jigs and plastics that were fished on the bottom, around channel swings, and the few brush piles in the lake.

Club President, Zack Wojcowicz had mastered the bottom bouncing technique by the end of the day, catching his five fish limit on a white Zoom Speed Craw, off of a brush pile near the channel.

At the end of the day, IU reigned supreme by almost doubling the weight of fish that Purdue brought in. At the end of the weigh-in, IU had managed to bring in just over 25 pounds, while Purdue weight just over 13 pounds of fish.

The Old Minnow Bucket will be home in Bloomington for at least a year, right where it belongs.


When Life Gives You Lemons…

To make lemonade, you have to squeeze the lemon. However, in this case, IU club members had to grind and then pulverize the lemon to get everything they could out of it.

The sun rose on October 22nd to reveal a thick blanket of fog over the water of Lake Lemon, forcing the IU Bass Club into a 45 minute delay to the start of their second and final club tournament of the fall semester. The boys (and girls) had all launched their boats by the original take off time, and became antsy as they waited for the fog to lift. Finally, when the club members could see outside of the bay they were sitting in, club President Zack Wojitowicz announced that the tournament could begin, but with one rule – anyone caught going faster than an idle until the fog was gone would be disqualified.

A small cold front had come through the area the week before, but what really changed the condition of the lake was two days of cold rain. The water temperature had dropped over ten degrees in some areas of the lake within a matter of days, giving the fish lock-jaw. Sean Gillenwater, who considers Lemon to be his home lake, said that the week of frontal conditions coupled with the blue bird skies made the fishing especially difficult, adding “A reaction bite was the only way to get bit.”

“I had been out twice the week before with Steve Bressler” said Clint Shireman, who won the tournament with two fish that weighed in at 4-02 pounds. “We found a couple places in practice where the shade had moved up, but the bass hadn’t followed them yet” added Bressler. Steve won big bass bragging rights with a 2-72 pound fish that came on a Team Supreme 50/50 spinnerbait. Shireman won the tournament by using fundamental advice that his uncle had taught him eons ago. “I was fishing docks when I noticed the wind had picked up on the main lake, so I ran over to a big point and started throwing a spinnerbait and a square-billed Rapala” Shireman said of his winning method.

Despite the tough conditions, many club members managed to catch fish, including IU’s own “Mr. Consistency” Chris Weiss, finishing in second place. All-American Dustin Vaal and first year club member Corey Underwood thought the lake was great, even though the bite was tough. Underwood said of the day “It was nice to get out and fish with the club. Lemon is a great lake, just getting keepers to bite on tournament day was difficult.”

IU’s next tournament, and final one for the fall, will be “The Minnow Bucket” on Lake Waveland November 6th. The tournament is a fishing version of “The Oaken Bucket,” the annual football game against Purdue University.