WAGONER, Okla. – The East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) duo of Kaden Proffitt of Pittsburg, Texas, and Cason Ragsdale of Winnsboro, Texas, weighed a five-bass limit Thursday totaling 14 pounds, 1 ounce to win the 2022 Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship Presented by Lowrance at Fort Gibson Lake.
Although ETBU has a Tackle Warehouse School of the Year title under its belt, this is the first national title for the university, earning the team a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2022 Toyota Series Championship to compete as pros for a shot to win up to $235,000.
After leading on both Day One and Day Two by a mere ounce, the Tiger duo’s three-day total of 14 bass, weighing 43-8 gave them the win by a 3-pound, 5-ounce margin – the largest margin they’ve had throughout the entire event. Donavan Carson and Landon Lawson from King University finished second with 13 bass weighing 40-3.
“We both went into this week knowing if we put our heads down and fished hard, we could win this event,” Proffitt said. “We knew logically if we could catch 15 3-pounders, we could win the tournament – and we’ve caught a million 3-pounders in our lives, so how difficult could it be to catch 15 – that was our mindset going into this event.
“We had zero fish at 10:30 a.m. today and we knew realistically we could zero for the day – it’s a fine line that we were walking this week. There are so few fish, and the bites are so few and far between, if you miss one, you’ve changed the entire result of the event. Thankfully it all worked out for us this week.”
“Some of our fish came off spots that we had actually fished in July during another MLF tournament,” Ragsdale said. “We pulled up in that same area and caught our kicker fish there, so we definitely feel blessed.
“We just fished slow. We ran and ran, but every spot we put down, we fished slow and methodical and made sure that every place where a fish could possibly be, we put a bait in.”
Proffitt said they caught their fish between 2 and 6 feet of water throughout the event and their key bait on Championship Thursday was a jig.
“We caught fish on a ChatterBait and on a crankbait, but the jig was what we caught the two big ones on and that was really key for us, just slowing down, especially earlier in the event,” Proffitt said. “There were a lot of people fishing the same areas as us, and we weren’t doing anything ‘special’ as far as where we were fishing, but I think the difference was we were just settling down once we got in an area and just made sure we fished it real slow. We made sure we made every cast we could possibly make, from every angle we could possibly hit it from, then we’d move on. And we hit as many spots as we could doing that.”
When asked about the automatic berth into the 2022 Toyota Series Championship, Proffitt said, “I can’t even process what that means right now. I’ve always wanted to fish for a living, and I can’t imagine a better way to possibly get started.”
“Every meeting we go to, we’ve said, ‘we’re fishing this tournament to get to the National Championship, so we can try to win the National Championship’ so to come here and do it is just amazing,” Ragsdale said. “Kaden and I have looked at each other all throughout this event and said, ‘we’re going to catch what we need to catch to continue moving forward,’ and that’s how we’ve fished the entire event. If we had 10 minutes left, we were going to catch what we needed in that 10 minutes. We didn’t even have a limit yesterday, but we knew going into it that we were going to catch what we needed.
“This National Championship win is insane for our program – it’s going to be awesome.”
The Top 10 teams on Fort Gibson Lake finished:
For a full list of results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 26 bass weighing 72 pounds even caught by nine teams Thursday. The catch included one that was a five-bass limit.
The Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship Presented by Lowrance at Fort Gibson Lake was hosted by the Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Wagoner.
The 13th annual College Fishing National Championship is a three-day event – hosted by the Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Wagoner – featuring the Top 176 college bass fishing teams from across the nation competing in an internationally televised, no-entry fee tournament for a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.
In addition to the boat package, both members of the winning team and the runners-up at the 2022 Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship will advance to the 2022 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete as pros for a top prize of up to $235,000. Both members of the third-place team will advance to the 2022 Toyota Series Championship to compete as co-anglers for a shot at winning a $33,500 Phoenix 518 Pro with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.
Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The Top 10 teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the Top 20 teams from the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing Open advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI on MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.