The University of Alabama team of Keith Kirkley of Northport, Alabama, and Frankie Appaluccio of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament on Lake Chickamauga Sunday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 30 pounds, 11 ounces. The victory earned the club $4,000 and qualified the team for the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
“I caught the biggest fish that I have ever caught in a tournament in my life today,” said Appaluccio, a senior majoring in Environmental Science. “It was an 8-pound, 13-ounce kicker. I’m speechless. There were a lot of great teams fishing in this event and I know we all try really hard. I’ve been fishing all of my life and I’ve had a few wins, but this win is really sweet.”
“We found one spot in practice where the fish were schooling,” said Kirkley, a senior Business major. “We had two solid days of practice and the fish were really eating a frog. But, on day one of the tournament we were only able to catch five fish all day long.”
“We caught our fifth keeper at 2:42 p.m. and we were due in at 3 p.m.,” Appaluccio added.
“Today we returned to the same point and we caught a limit within the first hour throwing topwaters,” Kirkley continued. “We started running some points and just went big fish hunting. It worked out, because Frankie caught that 8-13 and sealed the deal.”
Appaluccio described their main area as a creek mouth with no grass that had a point that dropped off into 25 feet of water. He also said that they saw more success throwing the frog on small, isolated grass mats.
Key baits for the Crimson Tide club were a bone-colored Heddon Zara Spook and a black Spro frog. They also caught a few fish Sunday afternoon throwing a Pro Blue-colored Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait.
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: University of Alabama – Keith Kirkley, Northport, Ala., and Frankie Appaluccio, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (10 bass, 30-11, $4,000)
2nd: Auburn University – Ben Curry, Hayden, Ala., and Timmy Ward, Auburn, Ala. (eight bass, 28-3, $2,000)
3rd: Auburn University – Candler McCollum, Auburn, Ala., and William Bates, Suwannee, Ga. (six bass, 25-9, $1,000)
4th: University of Florida – Shelby Concon, Fruitland Park, Fla., and Kyle Smith, Macclenny, Fla. (eight bass, 23-15, $1,000)
5th: Tennessee Tech University – Matt Allen, Cookeville, Tenn., and Zach Youngblood, Silver Point, Tenn. (six bass, 20-12, $1,000)
6th: Western Carolina University – Austin Neary, Cullowhee, N.C., and Zack Hicks, Cherokee, N.C. (seven bass, 19-13)
7th: Tennessee Tech University – Joe Ellis and Matthew Townson, both of Chattanooga, Tenn. (six bass, 19-7)
8th: Polk State College – Luke Ferguson, Lakeland, Fla., and Wesley Wise, Lake Wales, Fla. (seven bass, 18-5)
9th: University of South Carolina – Patrick Walters, Summerville, S.C., and Robert Brannon, Gaffney, S.C. (six bass, 17-10)
10th: Jacksonville State University – Nate Killough, Sylacauga, Ala., and Will Bullen, Jacksonville, Ala. (six bass, 14-12)
Complete results can be found at CollegeFishing.com.
The FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Invitational was hosted by the Greater Chattanooga Sports Committee.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in three qualifying events in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top 15 teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five conference invitational tournaments. The top 10 teams from each conference invitational tournament will advance to the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter. 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.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing. Visit CollegeFishing.com to sign up or to start a club at your school.
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Image courtesy FLW Outdoors