The Lincoln Memorial University team of Chris Hunt of Loudon, Tenn., and Kyle Warwick of Oak Ridge, Tenn. won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference event on Lake Okeechobee Saturday with four bass weighing 17 pounds even. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament.
“Our whole goal for this event was just to make the Invitational,” said Warwick, a senior majoring in Business. “It was a long drive for us, and today was the first time that either of us have ever fished in Florida. Getting the win makes all of our hard work worth it. I feel great.
Despite having no experience on Florida fisheries, the Lincoln Memorial University club came in extremely prepared for the first Southeastern Conference event of the year. Warwick credited their research on the Internet and YouTube with being the key to their success.
“We really studied hard for this tournament,” he said. “We researched weeks of fishing reports and studied Google Maps. YouTube was probably our biggest help. We searched for ‘flipping Okeechobee’ and watched nearly 200 videos teaching us how to. It was such a huge help considering we had never flipped before.”
“We ended up flipping all day,” added Hunt, a sophomore majoring in Business. “We stopped at a local bait shop when we got into town and asked about what colors to use. We ended up choosing a 7-inch Berkley Powerbait Lizard in green pumpkin. Coming in we knew we wanted to focus on the Little Grassy area in the northeast part of the lake. We stayed there all day.
“On my fifth cast of the morning I caught a 4-pounder,” Hunt continued. “Kyle caught back-to-back 3-pounders at 10:30 a.m. and then a half hour later he caught the big one.”
“When I set the hook, the drag just peeled off and I knew I had a big one,” Warwick said. “It ended up weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces and being the difference maker for us. It was a lot of fun to catch. We only had four bites all day long, so landing the bites that we did get was crucial today.
“Our bass club at Lincoln Memorial is still fairly new,” Warwick went on to say. “We just started it last spring, and it’s slowly growing. Hopefully, this victory can help us recruit some more members.”
The top 15 teams that also advanced to the Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament are:
2nd: Florida Gulf Coast University – Christian Smith, Coral Springs, Fla., and Brianne McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla. (five bass, 16-13, $1,000)
3rd: Auburn University-Montgomery – Ronald Nummy, Prattville, Ala., and Thomas Frink, Simi Valley, Calif. (five bass, 16-11, $500)
4th: Indian River State College – Justin Morgan and Garrett Folbrecht, both of Okeechobee, Fla. (five bass, 13-8, $500)
5th: University of Alabama – Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala., and Keith Kirkley, Northport, Ala. (five bass, 13-6, $500)
6th: Seminole State College – Neal Combs, Osteen, Fla. And Kevin Lucas, Apopka, Fla. (five bass, 12-4)
7th: University of Tennessee-Martin – Hayden Smith, Dickson, Tenn., and Alex Derry, Martin, Tenn. (five bass, 12-2)
8th: Young Harris College – Brad Rutherford, Lavonia, Ga., and Matthew Peeler, Griffin, Ga. (five bass, 11-12)
9th: Florida State University – Justin Mahon and Jason Mahon, both of Port Charlotte, Fla. (five bass, 11-5)
10th: University of Central Florida – Casey O’Donnell, Bradenton, Fla., and Justin Darley, Dunnellon, Fla. (five bass, 11-2)
11th: Mississippi State University – Taylor Odom, Meridian, Miss., and Josh Cameron, Starkville, Miss. (five bass, 10-9)
12th: Auburn University – Chris Seals, Odenville, Ala., and Shane Powell, Dothan, Ala. (five bass, 10-2)
13th: Georgia Southern University – Tanner Parker, Dalton, Ga., and Trent Palmer, Peachtree City, Ga. (five bass,9-9)
14th: Augusta State University – Wesley Steinmeyer Jr., Appling, Ga., and Daniel Hughes, Thomson, Ga. (five bass, 9-9)
15th: Tennessee Tech University – Ryan Harpe and Chris Thomas, both of Cookeville, Tenn. (five bass, 9-7)
Complete results can be found at CollegeFishing.com.
Four regular-season qualifying events are held in each conference – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Texas and Western. The top 15 teams from each qualifying tournament will advance to one of five televised two-day FLW College Fishing Conference Invitational tournaments, where the first-place team wins $4,000 for their club. The top 10 teams from each Conference Invitational advance to the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter and FLW provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
The second FLW College Southeastern Conference qualifying tournament is scheduled for March 2 at Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., and is hosted by the Marshall County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors