In a field of 96 different anglers from 21 different schools, UTC Bass Anglers earned a fourth place finish at the recent Southern Collegiate Bass Fishing Series (SCBFS) Championship Tournament, beating Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and UT-Knoxville. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was also the highest placing Tennessee school in a group that included Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, Freed-Hardeman, UT-Martin, and UT-Knoxville.
The UTC Bass Anglers, a club sport, is run and governed by the students in the club. Club dues generate most of the club’s budget with additional assistance from outside sponsors. Recently, the Mocs Bass Anglers have found local sponsors in Chattanooga Bakery, makers of MoonPie; Chattanooga Fish-N-Fun, a Ranger boat dealership and tackle store near Chester Frost Park in Hixson; as well as Joe Burns Custom Rods in Cleveland according to Alex Craw. Craw founded the UTC Bass Anglers in October 2008.
“One weekend night, I woke up very early and saw that there was a college bass fishing tournament on ESPN. I saw teams from around the Southeast and just knew that I wanted to start a team here at UTC,” Craw said. “The club started off with six members but has since grown to over twenty. Almost every day I either get an email or a phone call from an interested student wanting more information on the club or how they can get involved with the team.”
To qualify for the SCBFS tournament, UTC had to fish in two out of three qualifying events. These events ran from January to March at various lakes in Alabama. On Lake Guntersville, Robby Crosslin and Brandon Lester finished 10th place in a field of over 50 college teams. On Lake Wheeler, Alex Craw and Michael Shepard placed 26th to secure a spot for UTC in the SCBFS.
“Unfortunately, the SCBFS tournament could not have come at a worse time for the UTC team,” Craw said. “Several members who wanted to fish in the tournament had other tournaments in Chattanooga to fish, exams to study for, or in my case were out of town. Several of the anglers on the team, including myself, play on the club baseball team and that weekend we were in Boone, North Carolina playing Appalachian State University. However, UTC was able to send two anglers to the Championship, Robby Crosslin and Brandon Lester.”
Crosslin and Lester each brought their own boats, allowing them to weigh up to ten fish each day.
“The odds were always against them though since they faced bigger colleges that sent more teams, the majority with six to eight anglers. After Day 1 of the tournament, Robby and Brandon were in 4th place with a combined weight of 27.29 lbs. Robby and Brandon both caught their limits early in the morning by using a Choo Choo jig and various soft plastic baits. Once they had caught five ‘keeper’ bass, Crosslin and Lester used swimbaits to catch bigger bass in attempts to cull the smaller ones. This strategy won UTC a 4th place finish as the guys caught 31.22 lbs. on Day 2 for a combined tournament weight of 58.51 lbs!” Craw said.
Lester caught a five pound bass using a jig in Day 2 of the SCBFS Championship Event. This is probably the biggest fish UTC has weighed in any collegiate tournament.
The UTC Bass Anglers will participate in several upcoming tournaments. Their next event will be on May 2nd at Santee Cooper Lake in Summerton, South Carolina. This event is sponsored by FLW College Fishing. UTC will be sending four anglers to fish in this 40 team event.
“If any of the teams place in the top five places, they can win cash prizes ranging from $2,000 – $10,000 which would be split between the bass club and the University. Fans and supporters can actually watch the Mocs Bass Anglers weigh in their fish live at www.collegefishing.com on the day of the tournament,” Craw said.
Many UTC anglers will be participating in the Tennessee River Rumble on Kentucky Lake in Camden, Tennessee on May 16th. They are also looking forward to fishing the 2009 College Bass Under Armour National Championship in mid-July in Little Rock, Arkansas. This event will be televised and aired on ESPN later in the fall.
“Club member, Taylor Massingill, and I have come up with the idea of hosting our own charity bass fishing tournament sometime in late June on Chickamauga Lake to benefit our club team,” Craw said. “This would not only bring in some much needed funding for the team, but get the word out about our club and sponsors, as well as promote the great bass fishing resources that Chattanooga has to offer.”
For more information on the team, please contact Alex Craw, president of the UTC Bass Anglers Club, at Alex-Craw@utc.edu.