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 presented by Costa Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces. The victory earned the Builders’ bass club $2,400 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
It was the second consecutive year that the duo of Atkins and Moger won the FLW College Fishing event on Smith Mountain Lake, and Atkins credited their sight-fishing skills as the key to their tournament wins.
“We’ve only been to this lake three times – all three for a tournament – and we finished fourth, first and first,” says Atkins, a senior majoring in business management. “Kitt and I work real well together when we’re targeting beds, alternating casts and keeping a bait in front of the fish at all times. Smith Mountain Lake is also very similar to some of the lakes we have by our house and we’ve got a lot of practice bed fishing.”
“We spent a full day on the water Thursday, just prior to the tournament, and we were on the water from sun up to sun down, just looking for and marking fish on beds,” says Moger, a third year Outside Machinist Apprentice at Newport News Shipbuilding. “I think that was the key to our win – persistence. We wore that trolling motor out and didn’t even really fish – we just looked for fish on the bed.”
The duo says they came in to the tournament with around a dozen fish marked and they were able to put 11 keepers in the boat. They flipped Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Craws and Rage Lobsters, both black-and-blue-colored.
“I think the key was knowing how to sight-fish,” Atkins goes on to say. “We ran into a couple of very large fish, but after a few casts we knew we were wasting our time. You have to know when it’s going to bite and when to leave it alone. Luckily we ran into some that were ready.”
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2020 College Fishing National Championship:
1st: The Apprentice School – Hunter Atkins, Carrsville, Va., and Kitt Moger, Suffolk, Va., five bass, 16-6, $2,400
2nd: Radford University – Christopher Butler and Zack LeMaster, both of Bedford, Va., five bass, 15-6, $1,000
3rd: Radford University – Christian Williams, Wingina, Va., and Joshua Greenberg, Montpelier, Va., five bass, 14-12, $500
4th: Michigan State University – Riley Welch, Beecher, Ill., and Kevin Lukens, Norton Shores, Mich., five bass, 14-3, $500
5th: James Madison University – Blake Miles, Chesterfield, Va., and Noah Beckley, Salem, Va., five bass, 13-13, $750
6th: Radford University – Jackson Norton, Ferrum, Va., and Nathan Brooks, Rocky Mount, Va., five bass, 12-10
7th: Clarkson University – Tyler Robinson, Madrid, N.Y., five bass, 12-7
8th: Clarkson University – Benjamin Seaman, Colchester, Vt., and Connor Reese, Farmington, N.Y., five bass, 12-6
9th: Liberty University – Coleman Roberts, Fort Myers, Fla., and Alex Williamson, Gorham, Maine, five bass, 12-4
10th: Wytheville Community College – Logan Reynolds, Stuart, Va., and Landon Siggers, Danville, Va., five bass, 12-1
Complete results for the entire field can be found at FLWFishing.com.
The YETI FLW College Fishing event on Smith Mountain Lake presented by Costa was hosted by Bedford Tourism and the Bedford Area Welcome Center. It was the first of three regular-season qualifying tournaments for Northern Conference anglers. The next event for FLW College Fishing anglers will be May 31 at the Chesapeake Bay in Harford County, Maryland.