Tarleton State-Stephenville Wins Opener on Rayburn - Major League Fishing
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Tarleton State-Stephenville Wins Opener on Rayburn

Last-minute fish gives them the win by an ounce
Image for Tarleton State-Stephenville Wins Opener on Rayburn
Tarleton State University-Stephenville Photo by Jody White.
January 15, 2018 • MLF • Abu Garcia College Fishing

The Tarleton State University-Stephenville team of Chad Jones of Stephenville, Texas, and Graham Godwin of Princeton, Texas, won the first YETI FLW College Fishing event of 2018 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir Saturday with four bass weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces. The victory earned the Texan Rider bass club, which competes in the Southern Conference, $2,000 and a slot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.


“This win is huge for our club,” says Jones, a junior majoring in Agricultural Business. “We want to win School of the Year, and this is a great way to start off the season and earn some points.”


The duo says they started their day fishing north of the launch site, west of Jackson Hill Park and Marina. They worked along a 100-yard stretch of steep bank packed with hydrilla and were able to put three good fish in the boat early on.


“We had the boat in 13 to 15 feet of water and slow-rolled lipless crankbaits over the hydrilla,” says Godwin, a sophomore majoring in Wildlife Science. “The bites we got came in the 3- to 5-foot range. I caught our first keeper within the first few casts, which really got our blood pumping.”


Godwin says he used a gold-colored lipless crankbait to catch the first keeper. After 25 minutes, the team capitalized on the momentum with two more solid fish.


“I caught a 6½-pounder just working down the bank,” says Jones. “On the next pass, I caught a 7-pounder in the exact same spot. Those first three catches really set the tone for the day.”


Jones caught his two lunkers on a ½-ounce sexy shad-colored Strike King Red Eye Shad. With only minutes left in the tournament, Godwin says they caught their final fish from similar hydrilla near the launch ramp.


“The last bite was our most important bite of the day, even though it was a small bass. It gave us the win by an ounce,” says Godwin. 


“It was my first win as a collegiate angler and it feels pretty good,” Godwin went on to say, “I hope we can win a couple more events. It’s a big energy boost for the club and gives us all some more confidence.”


The top 10 teams advanced to the 2019 College Fishing National Championship

1st: Tarleton State University-Stephenville – Chad Jones of Stephenville, Texas and Graham Godwin, Princeton, Texas, four bass, 17-15, $2,000

2nd: Stephen F. Austin State University – Wyatt Frankens and Robert Lawson, both of Corrigan, Texas, five bass, 17-14, $1,000

3rd: Northwestern State University – John Joseph Ledet, Robeline, La., and Logan LaPrarie, Deville, La., five bass, 16-8, $500

4th: Arkansas Tech University – Kory England, Hope, Ark., and Will Lancett, Rogers, Ark., five bass, 16-7, $500

5th: Louisiana State University-Shreveport – Jared Rascoe, Stonewall, La., and Harrison Hopkins, Bossier City, La., five bass, 15-3, $500

6th: University of Louisiana-Lafayette – Dakota Moofe, Leesville, La., and Dawson Cranford, Stonewall, La., four bass, 13-11

7th: McNeese State University – Alex Murray, Lake Charles, La., and Trent Manuel, Orange, Texas, four bass, 12-15 

8th: Louisiana State University-Shreveport – James Kimbrough, Bossier City, La., and Ryan Antee, Hosston, La., five bass, 12-9       

9th: University of Oklahoma – Andrew Fazzino and Grant Davis, both of The Woodlands, Texas, five bass, 12-8, $400

10th: University of Arkansas-Monticello – Trey Rainwater III, Bastrop, La., and Hunter Fluitt, Sterlington, La., three bass, 12-8

Complete results


This YETI FLW College Fishing Southern Conference opener on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was hosted by the Lufkin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and was the first of three regular-season qualifying tournaments for Southern Conference anglers in 2018. The next YETI FLW College Fishing events take place Feb. 10, when Southeastern Conference anglers take on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia, and Western Conference competitors take on Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.


YETI FLW College Fishing teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top ten teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual FLW College Fishing Open will advance to the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship. Additional teams will qualify for the National Championship if the field size in regular-season events exceeds 100 boats.


The 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship will take place May 30-June 1 on the Red River in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission & Red River Waterway Commission.


YETI FLW College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a college fishing club that is recognized by their school.