Stephen F. Austin Wins FLW College Fishing Regional Championship
After losing their day-one lead on the second day, Stephen F. Austin's Ryan Watkins and Andrew Upshaw stormed back to claim the final-round victory.David A. Brown
The Stephen F. Austin team of Andrew Upshaw, Hemphill and Ryan Watkins, Rockport, Texas, won the National Guard FLW College Fishing Texas Regional Championship Saturday in record setting fashion. Their five bass limit set a new FLW Outdoors record for the heaviest one day catch at a college fishing event, weighing in at 26 pounds, 6 ounces. They had a three day total of 15 bass weighing 62 pounds, 6 ounces.
For their victory the team from Stephen F. Austin won $50,000 to be split between the university and the university's bass fishing club - $12,500 and a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower outboard wrapped in school colors for the bass club and $12,500 for their school. The team also earned their first berth in the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship which will be held in April 2012. Upshaw and Watkins beat their closest competitor, the Texas A&M team of Shafer and Weston, by an incredible 9 pounds, 11 ounces.
"This feels great. To be able to represent our school, our families, the fans," said Watkins. "It's unbelievable.
"The story of the day was rocks. We started on rocks and we finished on rocks," Watkins went on to say. "Typically in the fall the bass start a feeding frenzy and rocky areas provide large areas for more fish to feed on. These areas tend to replenish faster so the bass are constantly coming and going.
"We used three key baits and fished three key areas, Watkins continued. "The 6th Sense 1.5 Square Bill in clear sexy shad, Strike Pro Big Bubba in crawfish and Strike King Series 3 in sexy shad. We fished a rock bed that was 4 to 6 feet deep, brush piles in 3 to 12 feet of water and a back pocket that had a rock bottom.
"We lost a lot of fish today, it was ridiculous," Watkins added. "But then we caught the 7 ½ - pounder and we knew we had it won. This is unbelievable."
Both Upshaw and Watkins graduated this spring but managed to qualify for the Texas Regional, three times, prior to graduating. The team placed second at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Feb., second at Toledo Bend in March and third at Lake Texoma in May.
"The fish changed every day," Watkins said. "We won by chuckin' and grinding every day. There was a lot of hard work that went in to this victory. I do have to give props to Texas A&M. They are excellent anglers and always bring a good game. We knew that we couldn't give them any slack.
"We wanted to fish this rocky bank all week," Watkins continued. "We knew there were some big fish in there and we saw both Texas A&M teams in there. We just didn't get the opportunity to fish in there until today.
"This is something that you just can't explain, Watkins went on to say. "We lost a lot of fish today but we caught a lot of big bass. Times like this are few and far between and you just have to thank the man above for the blessing."
Rounding out the top five teams and also qualifying for the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship are:
- 2nd: Texas A&M University - Andrew Shafer, College Station, Texas, and Weston Brown, Bryan, Texas, 15 bass, 52-11, $10,000
- 3rd: Texas A&M University - Kyle Bates, and Cody Collins both of College Station, Texas, 14 bass, 47-5, $5,000
- 4th: Louisiana State University - Timothy Morris, Donaldsonville, La., and Richard Murdock, Lawrenceville, Ga., 14 bass, 39-1, $5,000
- 5th: Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi - Jacob Heath, and Kennedy Schwartzburg, both of Corpus Christi, Texas, 12 bass, 36-1, $5,000
For a complete list of final standings visit CollegeFishing.com.
Overall there were 21 bass weighing 71 pounds, 11 ounces with two five bass limits caught by the five teams.
The top five teams from each of the five regional tournaments will advance to the national championship where the first-place team will win a top award of $100,000; $25,000 for their school and $50,000 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors for their fishing club.
College Fishing is free to enter and FLW Outdoors provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. 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.
Drew Bailey and Adam Diehl from Lincoln High School, Neb., won the High School Texas Regional tournament held on Lake Somerville Saturday. TBF along with FLW Outdoors held the high school tournament in conjunction with the FLW College Fishing Texas Regional.
Lincoln High School caught the only five bass limit and weighed 11 pounds, 3 ounces to beat McPherson High, by 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
Diehl said the team used Zoom Baby Brush Hogs in watermelon red magic to catch their fish Saturday.
"We started fishing slow with Rat-L-Traps and buzzbaits but then changed to the brush hog and started catching fish," Diehl said. "We just flipped timber all day long."
"I am mostly a walleye fisherman, Bailey said. "But Adam has been a great partner and has taught me a lot about bass fishing. I am getting better and really enjoy it."
Rounding out the teams were:
- 2nd: Kansas' McPherson High, Sam, Starr and Brady Sherman, four bass, 6-9
- 3rd: Louisiana's Bossier Parrish High School, James Kimbrough and Jerod Keith, two bass, 6-8
- 4th: Arkansas' Dover High School, Kendall Goates and Cody Chessher, two bass, 5-7
- 5th: Texas' Rockwall-Heath High, Alec Castonguay and Cameron Elder, three bass, 4-12
- 6th: Oklahoma's Ponca City High, Gage Watson and Jenna Beam, one bass, 1-11
The winning team was determined by the heaviest weight for a maximum of five bass. Winning teams from each of five regional championships advances to the High School Fishing National Championship for a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship ($5,000 to each team member).
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook and on Twitter. Visit CollegeFishing.com to sign up or to start a club at your school.