University of Tennessee wins major FLW bass tournament, advances to Chickamauga event

Authored By Richard Simms

The University of Tennessee team of Jackson Minnich and Parker Hurst, both of Knoxville, 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,” Hurst said. “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 Tennessee Tech team, including Joe Ellis and Matthew Townson, both from Chattanooga, came in eighth place out of the 50-team field of competitors. The UT Chattanooga team of Robbie Moore and Sahadut Mughal came in 18th.

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 said. “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.”

Minnich said: “The bite really turned on after the fog lifted around noon today. 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 has qualified for an FLW College Fishing Invitational event in their career.

“We can’t wait for the invitational on Chickamauga,” Minnich said. “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.”

Click here for the top 15 teams.

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.