Big Dawgs, Bigger Bites
Jason Sleik
jslei157@uwsp.edu

The Big Dawg Bass Fishing Club’s success during the summer was not limited to the B.A.S.S. College Series regional qualifiers and National Championship.

The club also sent multiple anglers to journey across the Forest L. Wood College Fishing Series circuit and achieved equally outstanding success in these events.

Big Dawg fishing sent five teams to, Lake of the Ozarks, Pickwick Lake and Kentucky Lake, throughout the spring and early summer, to attempt to qualify for the FLW College Fishing Central Invitational July 27-28 on the Detroit River.

Cody Hahner and Stephen Maliborski capped off an outstanding club and collegiate season by finishing 10th on Pickwick, enough to advance their way through to Detroit.

The reigning club champions and B.A.S.S. National Championship qualifiers continued to show, both as a team and as individuals their abilities.

“Winning our club was a great accomplishment,” Hahner said. “I think, as a team, we are one of the strongest clubs in the Midwest.”

“It was an honor to represent UWSP Big Dawg Bass as the number one team out of an entire club of talented anglers,” Maliborski said. “My club success was, in my point of view, the evidence which proved that I deserved the chance to represent us in major national bass tournaments.”

Jason Hawksford and Cody Lincoln ensured that Hahner and Maliborski would not be the sole Big Dawg Fishing representatives in Detroit. They also advanced at Lake of the Ozarks, qualifying in the 15th and final position, nailing down their spot by a margin of just two ounces.

“Due to the strict FLW College Fishing Series rules of no pre- fishing, Jason and I had to go off what little we knew to try and sack a limit,” Lincoln said.

“When we got on the water, our day started off fast with a quick flurry of short fish followed by a legal. However, we fished the rest of the day catching only one more legal fish. Luckily, this was enough toputusin contention for the Detroit River Invitational,” Lincoln said.

“As luck would have it, Cody actually knew a guy who fished Ozarks every spring, so we thought that we would have an advantage going into the event,” Hawksford said.

“We knew going into the tournament that it would take just two or three fish to qualify for the Detroit River Invitational because of how difficult it was to catch fish out on Ozarks. With just a six hour tournament you have to execute, make no mistakes, and have a lot of luck. We did all of the above,” Hawksford said.

The FLW College Fishing Central Invitational on the Detroit River provided the final triumph in a summer of accomplishments for the Big Dawg Fishing team.

Hahner and Maliborski placed 15th to back up their remarkable season, but it was the team of Hawksford and Lincoln that stole the show and finished 4th in the two-day event, just seven ounces out of 1st place, while easily gaining themselves a top 10 finish and securing a place in the FLW College Fishing Series National Championship next April.

Hawksford and Lincoln used their familiarity with the style of fishing provided by the Detroit River to their maximum advantage.

“Jason and I did as much ‘pre- fishing’ as we possibly could without violating FLW College Fishing Series rules and actually getting on the water. With Jason and I both being enrolled in Treehaven, we could not leave for the Detroit River until 4 p.m. Friday. We did not arrive in Detroit until Saturday morning, just half an hour before the pre-tournament meeting,” Lincoln said.

The last minute arrival, however,​did anything but slow them down. “Detroit really fit right into our wheel house with the type of fishing style we prefer,” Hawksford said. “It fished similar to rivers we fish in Wisconsin which didn’t as much benefit us as it hurt schools from further south that were not use to fishing a river like Detroit.”

Big Dawg Fishing’s tremendous success over the summer solidified Club President Hawksford’s vision and plan.

“The team that won School of the Year last year fished 10 events and beat us by 450 points. We fished just four events. This year I would like to see us send teams to 10 events and send multiple teams to the events where we can score the most points. We would love to jump into the top 5 and maybe even win the School of the Year program this year.”