Bethel University anglers won the first MLF College Fishing Face-Off at Watts Bar Lake. Photo by Josh Gassmann

DAYTON, Tenn. – The first Major League Fishing College Face-Off presented by Spring City, TN did not disappoint, as the top three teams each finished the day with more than 69 pounds of scorable bass on Watts Bar Lake. Leading the way was John Garrett and Kyle Palmer of Bethel University with an eye-popping 86 pound, 15 ounces of Watts Bar bass.

Bethel won the MLF College Face-Off overall with its team of anglers racking up 35 points for the win. Bethel teams finished in first, second, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 10th. Bryan teams finished third, sixth, seventh and ninth, earning 20 points. Conner Dimauro and Cole Sands were the highest-finishing team from Bryan College, weighing in 69 pounds, 10ounces.

Tournament Details and Scoring

Bethel University and Bryan College, two college fishing powerhouses, competed in an 8-versus-8 team tournament. Each of the 16 boats on the water had a team of two anglers, and a total of 16 anglers represented each school. 

Each team that finished in the Top 10 earned points for their college. First place was awarded 10 points, and points decreased by one for the next placing teams (ninth earned nine points, eighth earned eight points, etc.).

The college anglers weighed their fish catches using official MLF scales and then immediately released the bass. All bass weighing at least 1 pound were counted towards the team’s overall score. This is similar to the format that MLF pros and their fans have grown to love.

The college anglers scored their catches using the SCORETRACKER LIVE™ app. This allowed the teams to see their current standings and get live updates on their competition. The live results were also available to the public on the SCORETRACKER LIVE website. The SCORETRACKER LIVE app is available to all anglers and can be used for fishing competitions ranging from 2-200 people.

Bryan College anglers fish on Watts Barr Lake during the MLF College Fishing Face-Off. Photo by Josh Gassmann

Top Patterns

John Garrett and Kyle Palmer of Bethel dialed in their dominant pattern by flipping shallow lay downed trees on pea gravel banks. Their key bait was a Strike King Rage Bug. They also had success targeting bedding fish.

“The SCORETRACKER was the reason we ended up catching all those fish. We started out fishing for some pre-spawn fish, and had like three or four doing that,” Garrett commented. “After the rain let up we checked SCORETRACKER and boom, one of the Bryan kids had 25 pounds. And that’s when we made the change, and it was the right choice to make. As soon as we made that change we started catching fish.”

“If you’re in a normal tournament, you don’t know how many they’re catching, Garrett added. “It questions whether you’re doing something right or wrong, but with that SCORETRACKER, you know you’re doing something wrong and you need to make a change.”

Second place finishers, Garrett Enders and Cody Huff of Bethel took a different approach, targeting spawning smallmouth and the occasional largemouth on main lake current breaks. The key was looking for ledge-type rock with a concentration of stumps. They caught all of their fish on a Zoom Super Fluke and a Zoom Speed Craw.

“Your mind never got to slow down. Just like Randy Howell was telling us in the tournament meeting the other night, your mind never gets a chance to take a break. You’re always worried about how you’re going to get your next bite. He was exactly right. You’re always trying to catch one more, all day,” Huff commented.

Dimauro and Sands of Bryan figured out a pattern targeting pre-spawn fish on gravel points. They used several lures including jigs and Carolina rigs to catch 38 scorable bass.

Bethel was awarded the MLF College Face-Off shield, and it was presented to them live during the Bass Pro Tour Postgame Show Presented by Berkley on Saturday evening.

Final Results

TeamSchoolTotal Weight# of FishBiggest Fish
Garrett & PalmerBethel86-15425-06
Enders & HuffBethel72-06363-11
Dimauro & SandsBryan69-10383-08
Floyd & McNeilBethel61-00333-14
Queen & EwartBethel47-05272-09
T. Prince & KendrickBryan44-06245-07
Simerly & ShawBryan36-05203-15
Scroggins &PortchBethel31-06183-09
Lee & D. PriceBryan30-06153-03
Ableman & RobertsBethel25-11133-00
Fain & St. JohnBryan23-02103-10
Goins & FoggBryan20-09122-09
McCormick & PierceBethel19-12112-08
Winchester & BlackBethel17-0893-15
Heffington & Cizek Bryan15-0293-02
Barber & GrubbBryan8-0752-02