CLEWISTION, Fla. – The Auburn University team of Shaye Baker and Kenneth (Jordan) Lee won the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeast Division event on Lake Okeechobee Saturday with six bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces. The victory earned the team $10,000 to be split evenly between the university and the university’s bass-fishing club.
The win also helped them advance to the Southeast Division Regional Championship where they could ultimately win a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower engine wrapped in school colors for their school’s club and $25,000 for the school they represent.
“I am glad we got ’em today,” said Baker. “I like Florida, but the fishing was though today, I like fishing a little closer to home.
“Jordan and I weren’t able to do any pre-fishing for this tournament so we relied heavily on what me and my partner learned at last year’s tournament. We fished the same area on the southwest corner of the lake, near Turner’s Cove, where we pulled up on some grass and found fish biting.
“We actually caught our limit by 9 – 9:30 which really helped us a lot. We then concentrated on finding some bigger fish that we knew were out there, unfortunately this cold front shut the fish down and we couldn’t really find that big one we were looking for. We caught most of our fish with skinny dippers, the ones we missed using skinny dippers we got on Senkos.”
“I was really surprised we won,” said Lee. “With our low weight I didn’t think we would even make the top-5. The cold front that came through really made the bite tough. I knew my partner was a good fisherman, so just hoped for the best.”
Payback is sweet for Baker as last November he and his 2009 partner finished second behind the University of Florida team of Jake Gipson and Matthew Wercinski at the Southeast Division Regional Championship. Baker and his last year’s partner, Dennis Parker, along with the University of Florida and 23 other team’s from across the country will participate in the 2009 National Championship event which is being held April 10-12 at Ft. Loudoun and hosted by the University of Tennessee.
The University of Florida placed a disappointing sixth at today’s event and did not qualify yet for the 2010 Southeast Division Regional. They will have another shot, however, as the next qualifying event will be at Lake Seminole, Bainbridge, Ga., May 1, 2010.
Rounding out the top five teams today were Southern Polytechnic State University – Dustin Holland and Zachary Dixon (three bass 10-10, $5,000); University of Central Florida – Leonard Gordon and Miles Burghoff (six bass, 9-14, $4,000); Tennessee Tech – Cody Gass and Adam Goodwin (six bass, 8-15, $3,000); University of South Carolina, Upstate – David Scruggs and Michael Smith (six bass, 8-12, $2,000).
FLW Outdoors announced the College Fishing trail in May 2008. Full-time students enrolled in four year colleges or universities are eligible to participate in the events. Schools can send two-person teams to each of the four qualifying events in their division, with each event limited to a maximum of 40 teams. Each team has the opportunity to win $10,000 for first through $2,000 for fifth place. Prize money is split evenly between the winning team’s club and the school they represent. The tournaments are free to enter, boats and drivers are provided by FLW and all collegiate teams receive a travel allowance. The top five teams in each qualifying event advance to one of five televised three-day National Guard FLW College Fishing Regional Championships.
The National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship is a three-day televised event hosting the top five teams from each regional, 25 total teams. Teams will be provided shirts and wrapped Ranger boats towed by Chevy trucks for this competition.
The winning team will be declared the National Guard FLW Collegiate National Champion and will qualify for the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup. The winners will also receive use of a wrapped boat and Chevy truck for cup competition.