APPLING, Ga. – The Auburn University team of Candler McCollum of Auburn, Ala., and William Bates of Suwanee, Ga., won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament on Clarks Hill March 1 with five bass weighing exactly 26 pounds. Their win qualified them for the 2014 Southeastern Conference Invitational on Lake Chickamauga.
Bates and McCollum picked up their first win in their second time fishing together and also qualified for the Invitational for the first time. The pair won by more than three pounds in an event that brought in a number of staggering weights.
“This is only my second year of College Fishing,” said McCollum. “In the past we haven’t had much practice; this is the first one we’ve actually practice for. Having a little preparation was awesome.
“We practiced the past two days,” explained McCollum. “We got here early Thursday morning. We experimented a little in the southern part of the lake, but it was a little more deep and clear than we wanted. So we pulled out and went up north and found a little more stain and water that was 1 to 2 degrees warmer. We didn’t actually boat any on Thursday but we committed to the shallow bite and got four of the right bites on Friday.”
“We had a good game plan,” said Bates. “We made a pretty long run this morning and went up north and found some stained water. We were going to do a lot of running and gunning, and we thought we had a shot. We didn’t think it’d be this good, though.”
The pair explained that once the sun got up on the day of the tournament they began to dial things in.
“We were fishing really slow and letting our baits contact the bottom,” added Bates. “There was some kind of grass on the bottom. I’m not sure what it was, but we were actually able to fish it with fluorocarbon and not braid. We were fishing very shallow; most of the fish came in only 2 to 4 feet of water.”
“We had a really fortunate day and executed well,” finished McCollum. “We’re pumped to be heading to Chickamauga for the Invitational.”
The team said that their primary bait was a red XCalibur XR75 One Knocker.
The top 15 teams that advanced to the 2014 FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Invitational are:
The top-15 team finishers from the March 1 FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament on Clarks Hill pose for a quick photo after final weigh-in.1st: Auburn University – Candler McCollum, Auburn, Ala., and William Bates, Suwannee, Ga. (five bass, 26-0, $2,000)
2nd: Florida Gulf Coast University – Christian Smith, Coral Springs, Fla., and Kyle Monti, Okeechobee, Fla. (five bass, 22-11, $1,000)
3rd: State University of West Georgia – Brian Redd and Justin Walton, both of Douglasville, Ga. (five bass, 21-10, $500)
4th: North Carolina State University – Grayson Barber, Lenoir, N.C., and Tyler Faggart, Julian, N.C. (five bass, 18-15, $500)
5th: Auburn University-Montgomery – Josh Holley, Montgomery, Ala., and Philippe Brown, Millbrook, Ala. (five bass, 18-5, $500)
6th: Daytona State College – Thomas Oltorik, Deland, Fla., and Zach Ford, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (five bass, 17-14)
7th: Clemson University – Patrick Williford, Greensboro, N.C., and Calvin Bultz, Clemson, S.C. (five bass, 17-5)
8th: Jacksonville State University – Nate Killough, Sylacauga, Ala., and Will Bullen, Jacksonville, Ala., (five bass, 16-15)
9th: University of Central Florida – Hunter McKamey, Geneva, Fla., and Kyle Oliver, Winter Garden, Fla. (five bass, 16-12)
10th: Georgia College – Alex Schieman, Lawrenceville, Ga., and Clayton Faircloth, Milledgeville, Ga. (five bass, 16-7)
11th: Polk State – Luke Ferguson, Lakeland, Fla., and Wesley Wise, Lake Wales, Fla. (five bass, 16-6)
12th: University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – Tyler Watson, Sweetwater, Tenn., and Gavyn Bridges, Thompsons Station, Tenn. (five bass, 15-13)
13th: University of Alabama – Payton McGinnis, Jasper, Ala., and John Davis, Birmingham, Ala. (five bass, 15-0)
14th: Wake Forest University – Justin Cecil, Lexington, N.C., and Thomas Gravitt, King, N.C. (three bass, 14-9)
15th: University of Alabama-Birmingham – Kendall Pierce, Prattville, Ala., and Brandon Powell, Helena, Ala., (five bass, 14-2)
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.