Murray State won the Collegiate Bass Fishing Open on Lake Chickamauga over the weekend with a two-day, two-team catch of 11 bass weighing 49.69 pounds, beating second place finisher Bethel University by more than 6 pounds. The two 2-man teams consisted of Justin Graben, Dan Schult, Justin Bergen, and Cody Santel.
The Murray State Team had a shortened practice due to classes at the school on Wednesday as well as a club meeting on Wednesday night, thus arriving at the lake early on Thursday. They rested at the boat ramp for a few hours before hitting the water on the final official practice day.
“We knew everyone would be throwing an umbrella rig and didn’t want to share water with those guys,” Santel said. “Shallow fishing is all four of our strengths, and from our knowledge and experience on the river, we knew there would be some good fish pushed shallow so we looked for that type of water. Our three baits for the week were a jig, chatterbait, and a 2.5 squarebill. The crankbait caught the majority of our fish, and accounted for the 6 and 7-pounders myself and Berger weighed in. The key though to the chatterbait and crankbait bite was to reel as slowly as possible through the wood.
“We have some awesome anglers on the team this season, and a lot of us have had some great finishes in the past but it feels good to finally seal the deal with a major win. Our club is as strong as it has ever been, and we have a bunch of new freshman this year who can really fish and I’m excited to see how this year will play out. Murray State is definitely going to be a team to watch out for.”
The Murray State Team feels that this win will be a huge momentum builder for the rest of the Association of Collegiate Angler events as well as move them into contention for the Cabela’s School of the Year Race.
“All the team members wanted to thank all their families and sponsors and stated that without their help the team could never send as many teams to the event as we did. We have some great sponsors that help us out, but a special thanks to Wood Forrest Bank, John at Fisherman’s Headquarters, Navionics, and Mr. Campisano.”
The Bethel University bass team once again started out strong at a major collegiate event and have also moved into contention for a run at the Cabela’s School of the Year title. The Bethel Team of Cody Ross, Dewey Sims, Zach Parker and Matthew Roberts were in first place after day one before slipping a little bit on day two which caused them to fall to second. Bethel, last year’s BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship winners, reported using umbrella rigs on channel swings in the back of creeks as their primary tactic.
“We noticed in practice that if we fished parallel to the swings we would get better bites. We also figured out that if you threw the umbrella rig on fluorocarbon you would get more quality bites,” Cody Ross of the Bethel Bass Team.
The team went on to thank their parents for making it all possible as well as their sponsors Lews, Strike King, Car-Hart, Triton boats, and everyone else that supports the team. They are looking forward to the Cabela’s Big Bass Bash in April as Kentucky Lake has been on fire lately and that event should be a great one for all the anglers.
Rounding out the Top Ten Places:
3rd Auburn University
4th Virginia Tech
5th North Carolina State University
6th North Carolina State University
7th Tennessee Tech University
8th Bethel University
9th University of Tennessee-Knoxville
10th Southwestern Oklahoma State University