BAINBRIDGE, Ga. - The University of Tennessee team of Jackson Minnich and Parker Hurst, both of Knoxville, Tenn., won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference event on Lake Seminole Saturday with five bass weighing 24 pounds, 8 ounces.
The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament.
"We've never won an event this big," said Hurst. "Right now, I feel amazing. We didn't get much practice in before this event. The first time that we got to fish on the lake was yesterday. And we didn't find much in practice. But, we did find the spot that we fished today and it turned out great."
The spot that Hurst referred to was a 500-yard stretch of grassline that the Tennessee duo covered methodically with Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps, a pattern that they also discovered in practice yesterday.
"We tried everything during our practice," Hurst continued. "We were flipping and pitching, and when we didn't catch any we tried deep cranking. We ended up catching our only two keepers in practice on the Rat-L-Trap, so that's what we decided to use during the tournament."
"The bite really turned on after the fog lifted around noon today," Minnich added. "We fished our key stretch this morning, but only caught two. When we went back after the fog, it was hot. I caught a 5-pounder and while I was boating mine, Parker caught a 5-pounder. Then we followed it up with a big 6- and 7-pounder and we knew we had something special. Every fish we caught came on the red Rat-L-Trap."
The victory was extra special for the Volunteer Bass Club, as both Minnich and Hurst are senior Wildlife and Fisheries Management majors and neither have qualified for an FLW College Fishing Invitational event in their career.
"We can't wait for the Invitational on Chickamauga," said Minnich went on to say. "It's going to be our first shot to qualify for the national championship and it's right in our backyard. We only live about 40 minutes from Chick, and you can bet we will be ready."
The top 15 teams that advanced to the Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament are:
1st: University of Tennessee - Jackson Minnich and Parker Hurst, both of Knoxville, Tenn. (five bass, 24-8, $2,000)
2nd: University of North Alabama - Dawson Lenz, Peachtree City, Ga., and Evan Horne, Florence, Ala. (five bass, 20-14, $1,000)
3rd: University of Florida - Shelby Concon, Fruitland Park, Fla., and Kyle Smith, Macclenny, Fla. (three bass, 20-10, $500)
4th: University of West Georgia - Kenny Johnson, Newnan, Ga., and Bradley Rilling, Fayetteville, Ga. (five bass, 20-2, $500)
5th: Southern Polytechnic State University - Grant Kelly, McDonough, Ga., and Daniel Harkness, Thomasville, Ga. (five bass, 19-7, $500)
6th: University of Alabama - Keith Kirkley, Northport, Ala., and Frankie Appaluccio, Tuscaloosa, Ala. (three bass, 18-6)
7th: Western Carolina University - Austin Neary, Cullowhee, N.C., and Zack Hicks, Cherokee, N.C. (five bass, 17-10)
8th: Tennessee Tech University - Joe Ellis and Matthew Townson, both of Chattanooga, Tenn. (three bass, 14-1)
9th: Auburn University-Montgomery - Tyler Strock, Slapout, Ala., and Dalton Darnell, Millbrook, Ala. (four bass, 11-12)
10th: Georgia Southern University - Cody Shepherd and Luke Greenwell, both of Statesboro, Ga. (four bass, 11-8)
11th: Mississippi State - Taylor Odom, Meridian, Miss., and Josh Cameron, New Orleans, La. (four bass, 10-8)
12th: University of Central Florida - Patrick Teaf, Tallahassee, Fla., and Chad Bass, Orlando, Fla. (three bass, 10-3)
13th: Valdosta State University - Michael Harback and Taylor Minick, both of Valdosta, Ga. (five bass, 8-9)
14th: Seminole State College - Michael Skat, Sanford, Fla., and Phillip Heyde, South Bend, Ind. (five bass, 7-2)
15th: University of Florida - Grant Bergeron, Longwood, Fla., and Stephen Carlisle, Gainesville, Fla. (two bass, 6-15)
Complete results can be found at CollegeFishing.com.
Three regular-season qualifying events are held in each conference - Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western. The top 15 teams from each qualifying tournament will advance to one of five 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 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.
The next FLW College Southeastern Conference qualifying tournament is scheduled for March 1 at Clarks Hill Lake in Appling, Ga., and is hosted by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook atFacebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing. Visit CollegeFishing.com to sign up or to start a club at your school.