NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It was a familiar spot for Will White and Chris Wood of North Carolina State, even though they had never fished or even seen it prior to practicing for the 2009 Under Armour College Bass National Championship this week on the Arkansas River.
Three years ago, they watched Scott Rook win $250,000 out of Fourche Creek on in the Bassmaster Major that aired on ESPN2, and a year later watched Virginia Tech win this same tournament out of the creek, which aired on ESPNU.
"I knew of the spot, and I knew Rook won there, but I couldn't find any video on it," White said after weighing a limit of five bass worth 14.43 pounds on Sunday. "I knew where he was at, but I didn't know what he was doing. I did know he was doing some cranking."
It was the heaviest bag weighed in from any of the 60 teams that fished the weekend, and 8 pounds more than what they needed to win the championship. It was also a far cry from the 4.97 pounds White and Wood weighed in Friday.
They were in Fourche Creek early on Friday morning and it wasn't producing so they got antsy and tried a different spot. On Saturday, they decided to come back to the creek and simplify their approach.
"I just made up my mind that I was going to make a million casts with that crank bait," said White, a senior majoring in natural resources. "It paid off and we caught 10 pounds."
It was just enough to get them inside the top-5 cut going into Sunday, but with the weights being zeroed, fifth was as good as first.
They went back to the creek first thing on Sunday and assaulted it with crankbaits and shaky heads all day. They only caught five keepers, but it turned out to be plenty.
White attributed their big bag to what they learned from two days of grinding it out in one spot. They learned where the fish were located, or more importantly, where they weren't. They went from fishing a mile long stretch of bank on Friday to 100-yard stretch on Sunday. They even narrowed down which parts of a bridge were holding fish.
"You could catch fish on every corner of this bridge, but every time you fished that one corner, you caught a fish and you probably caught two or three," White said. "We could catch them there all day."
The College Bass champions said they couldn't find much in the terrain that helped them key on one area over another -- there were some hints, but it was basically a process of elimination.
"Some of it was focusing in on the grass and then some on the rock," said Wood, a senior majoring in textile engineering. "Anytime you have rock points around a bridge, they're going to have fish on them."
Both from North Carolina, neither Wood nor White had much experience with river fishing coming into the championship, and this was only Wood's second tournament with College Bass, but they did rise to the top-two from a club that has more than 40 members to represent North Carolina State.
Plenty of research, sticking to the basics and committing themselves to a spot that has proven it can win tournaments made them national champions.
"I don't think this is going to set in for another week or two," Wood said, "maybe once my phone stops ringing."