The Apprentice School duo of Hunter Atkins, of Carrsville, Virginia, and Kitt Moger, of Suffolk, Virginia, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Smith Mountain Lake on Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 2 ounces. The victory earned the Builders bass club $2,400 and a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
“We knew we had a pretty good limit, but we figured some of the other teams likely would as well, so we were surprised to get the win so convincingly,” says Moger, a sophomore angler.
Moger says that the duo spent their day on the water sight-fishing for bass that they had marked on beds during their practice session Friday.
“It started Friday afternoon – we noticed a few fish were literally just moving up on the beds,” Moger says. “We spent the rest of our afternoon running around and marking fish on beds that looked catchable. We had probably 8 to 10 marks saved for the tournament, then around 6 o’clock that evening we came upon a 7-pounder. We knew that was where we were going to start our tournament day.
“On Saturday, we launched our boat, attended the takeoff ceremony, and immediately ran up to the Roanoke end of the lake, back to the 7-pounder. It took about an hour and a half of work to get her to bite, but we got her.”
“When we are sight-fishing, we both stand side-by-side on the front deck and take turns casting right after each other,” says Atkins, a junior majoring in business. “It’s a very fast-paced style and it seemed to get the fish aggravated more quickly.”
The duo says that they were able to put about a half-dozen of their marks they had in the boat, and managed to find a few new fish on beds as the day went on. All 10 of the keepers that the team caught throughout the day came sight-fishing with a Texas-rigged black and blue-colored plastic craw.
“The key was determining which fish to spend the time on to catch,” Moger went on to say. “Some of the bass were extremely skittish and you could quickly tell that they were a lost cause. I think the majority of the teams were fishing reaction-type baits, or around docks with Yamamoto Senkos. But, the key were finding those fish on beds and targeting the right ones.”
The top 10 teams on Smith Mountain Lake that advanced to the 2019 College Fishing National Championship:
1st: The Apprentice School – Hunter Atkins, Carrsville, Va., and Kitt Moger, Suffolk, Va., five bass, 21-2, $2,400
2nd: Wytheville Community College – Eric Hawks, Galax, Va., and Landon Siggers, Dry Fork, Va., five bass, 17-7, $1,000
3rd: Schoolcraft Community College – Clayton Hatton, South Lyon, Mich., and Anthony Gilmore, of Livonia, Mich., five bass, 16-5, $700
4th: Virginia Tech University – Ethan Morrison, Gordonsville, Va., and Garrett Jennings, Boones Mill, Va., five bass, 15-3, $500
5th: Slippery Rock University – Kyle Brown, Wexford, Pa., and Andrew Eaton, Hingham, Mass.., five bass, 14-11, $500
6th: Virginia Tech University – Junior Roberts, Ringgold, Va., and Ethan Stone, Charlottesville, Va., five bass, 14-10
7th: Bluefield State College – Seth Comer and Donavan Carson, both of Peterstown, W. Va., five bass, 14-6
8th: University of Akron – Trent Richards, Doylestown, Ohio, and Jonathan Harter, Norton, Ohio, four bass, 14-4
9th: Radford University – Christian Williams, Wingina, Va., and Joshua Greenburg, Radford, Va., five bass, 14-2
10th: California University of Pennsylvania – Nick Fulks, Canonsburg, Pa., and David Blaker, Rices Landing, Pa., five bass, 13-12
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
The YETI FLW College Fishing event on Smith Mountain Lake was hosted by Visit Bedford, and was the first of three regular-season qualifying tournaments for Northern Conference anglers in 2018. The next YETI FLW College Fishing event takes place April 28, when Central Conference anglers compete at the YETI FLW College Fishing event at Kentucky and Barkley lakes presented by Berkley in Gilbertsville, Kentucky.