The Bryan College team of Nathan Bell of Riceville, Tennessee, and Cole Sands of Calhoun, Tennessee, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event at Lake Chickamauga presented by Bass Pro Shops on Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces. The victory earned the Lions bass club $2,000 and a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
“It was a pretty good day for me,” says Bell, a senior majoring in business administration and management. “I actually graduated on Saturday as well, but I skipped the ceremony so I could compete in this tournament. I’d rather be out fishing, anyways.”
“We had an unbelievable practice,” says Sands, a junior majoring in business management. “We thought we were going to be fishing deep, but the fish were still shallow. We watched the weather and knew that it was going to be cloudy and overcast during the tournament, so we spent our entire practice day on Thursday just running around and marking waypoints where we could see fish on beds.”
The Bryan College duo say that they had around 20 different waypoints marked to visit during the tournament and although they didn’t get to all of them, they did catch around 20 keepers throughout the day. They mainly concentrated on a five-mile stretch of water from near the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant to Harrison Bay.
“Our main bait was a 1/16-ounce Big Bite Baits shaky-head rig with a 4-inch blue flash-colored Zoom Finesse worm,” Bell says. “Of the five bass that we weighed in, three came on that. We also weighed in two on a green-pumpkin (Berkley Havoc) Pit Boss, Texas-rigged with a ¼-ounce tungsten weight.”
“The key was definitely marking all of those fish in practice on Thursday,” Sands went on to say. “They were really spooked, and if you got to close to them you weren’t able to catch them. So having those marks allowed us to make long casts and catch a lot of fish that we never would have seen Saturday.”
The top 10 teams on Lake Chickamauga that advanced to the 2019 College Fishing National Championship:
1st: Bryan College – Nathan Bell, Riceville, Tenn., and Cole Sands, Calhoun, Tenn., five bass, 21-9, $2,400
2nd: Lipscomb University – Hunter Hanks, Hermitage, Tenn., and Scout Monteith, Nashville, Tenn., five bass, 21-7, $1,200
3rd: Auburn University – Lucas Lindsay and Logan Parks, both of Auburn, Ala., five bass, 20-1, $500
4th: University of Tennessee – Saxton Long, Pulaski, Tenn., and Jordan Burdette, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 19-1, $500
5th: Calhoun Community College – Dakota Guzman, Moulton, Ala., and Zane Loveday, Killen, Ala., five bass, 18-13, $500
6th: Auburn University – Peyton McCord, Headland, Ala., and Cole Burdeshaw, Newville, Ala., five bass, 18-9
7th: Clemson University – Brady Waits, Clemson, S.C., and Liam West, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 18-8
8th: Lander University – Austin Gregory, Georgetown, S.C., and Kevin Latham, Greenwood, S.C., five bass, 18-7
9th: Bethel University – Nathon Portch, McKenzie, Tenn., and Cully Scroggins, Longview, Wash., five bass, 17-14
10th: University of Montevallo – Justin Barnes, Monroeville, Ala., and Adam Carroll, Carrollton, Ga., five bass, 16-8
FLW also advances one additional team to the National Championship for every 10 teams over 100 that compete. A total of 136 teams participated in this event, so also advancing to the 2019 College Fishing National Championship are:
11th: Savannah College of Art & Design – Reese Kingston, Villa Rica, Ga., and Cody Stahl, Griffin, Ga., four bass, 15-14
12th: University of North Alabama – Nathan Doss, Cullman, Ala., and Charles Rieser, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 15-11
13th: Bethel University – Brad Ableman, Latham, N.Y., and Kristopher Queen, Catawba, N.C., five bass, 15-8
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
The YETI FLW College Fishing event at Lake Chickamauga presented by Bass Pro Shops was hosted by the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council, and was the third and final regular-season qualifying tournaments for Southeastern Conference anglers in 2018. The next YETI FLW College Fishing event takes place May 12, when Western Conference anglers compete at the YETI FLW College Fishing event at Clear Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops in Lakeport, California.