Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage Four at Lake Chickamauga Presented by ATG by Wrangler

DAYTON, Tenn. (June 4, 2021) – It was the best opening day of the season at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage Four Presented by ATG by Wrangler at Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee. The 40 pros in Group A caught a single-day total of 271 bass weighing 806 pounds, 10 ounces, Thursday – the heaviest weight caught on any Day 1 so far this season.

B&W Trailer Hitches pro Russ Lane of Prattville, Alabama, was firmly in control of the Group A leaderboard after Day 1 concluded, catching 23 bass totaling 70 pounds,12 ounces, to grab the early lead in the two-day Group A Qualifying Round. The six-day event, hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council, features 80 of the top professional anglers from around the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.

Lane will bring a 21-pound, 6-ounce, lead into Sunday’s second day of competition for Group A. Berkley pro Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama, the reigning Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year (AOY),  caught 13 bass weighing 49-6 to end the day in second place. Michie, Tennessee’s Jason Lambert sits in third place after a 34-pound third period rally, just 1-ounce behind Lee with at total of 17 bass weighing 49-5.

The 40 anglers in Group A will now enjoy a day off Saturday, while the 40 anglers in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A resumes competition on Sunday.

“Man, what a day,” said Lane in his post-game interview from the water. “It is so much fun out here when things go right, and they really did today. I’ve got around a 20-pound lead and that is rare territory for me. I’m just enjoying the moment right now and I cannot wait to get back out here again for Day 2.”

Lane said that he mainly targeted Chickamauga’s offshore hydrilla beds and grass flats.

“I’m around them. There are a lot of good ones under the hydrilla, I just have to cover a lot of water,” Lane continued. “I caught them on a ¾-ounce ChatterBait with a little Big Bite (Baits) (Kamikaze) Swimon trailer with the tails cut down to make it have a little less action so the bait would get down deeper. I had 16-pound-test Sunline Sniper line spooled on a 7:1 (Shimano) Curado reel, and that setup has been doing some work today.”

Reigning AOY Jordan Lee has struggled so far this season and has not made it out of the Qualifying Rounds. But, after a productive day Thursday, it looks like the 30-year-old Alabamian may have broken out of his slump.

“It was a really good day for me,” Lee said. “I made some good decisions and things were just going right for me this morning. I haven’t made a cut yet this year, so to get off to a good start today feels really good.

“I caught some nice ones early and then just kept the ball rolling, picking up a few here and there all day. I mixed in a lot of different summertime, Tennessee River, ledge baits – cranking, a hair jig, and a Berkley (Havoc) Bottom Hopper. These fish here get a lot of pressure, so it was important to get off to a good start. Now, we’ll regroup and get after them again on Sunday.”

The top 20 pros in Group A after Day 1 on Lake Chickamauga are:

1st:           Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., 23 bass, 70-12
2nd:          Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 13 bass, 49-6
3rd:          Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., 17 bass, 49-5
4th:           Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 17 bass, 44-8
5th:           Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 11 bass, 38-14
6th:           Matt Becker, Finleyville, Pa., eight bass, 31-11
7th:           Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 29-12
8th:           Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., nine bass, 27-5
9th:           Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 26-2
10th:        Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, nine bass, 23-5
11th:        Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., eight bass, 22-13
12th:        Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., eight bass, 21-10
13th:        Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., seven bass, 21-4
14th:        Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., eight bass, 20-8
15th:        Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., seven bass, 20-4
16th:        Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 20-4
17th:        Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., seven bass, 19-5
18th:        Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., six bass, 19-4
19th:        Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., five bass, 18-13
20th:        Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., seven bass, 18-12

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Oklahoma, won Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in an 8-pound, 7-ounce largemouth on a Carolina rig during Period 1. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler who weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.

The MLF Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage Four at Lake Chickamauga Presented by ATG by Wrangler is hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council.

The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Lake Chickamauga on Friday and Sunday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Saturday and Monday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 38 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers will take off from the Dayton Boat Dock, located at 175 Lakeshore St., in Dayton, at 6:30 a.m. ET each day of competition. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will also be held at the Dayton Boat Dock, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all takeoff and takeout ceremonies and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 76 of the top professional anglers in the world – joined at each event by 4 pros that qualify from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit – competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2022 championship.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 6:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage Four Presented by Wrangler at Lake Chickamauga will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Oct. 9 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

For complete details and updated information on the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter Instagram, and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, the Sportsman Channel and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019 MLF acquired FLW and rebranded it as MLF BIG5, which expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.

Major League Fishing – WE ARE Bass Fishing™

FLW Abu Garcia College Fishing Open Coming to Lake Chick

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced that Dayton, Tennessee will host the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open on March 30-31 at Lake Chickamauga. The famed big-bass fishery has produced some of the best trophy bass fishing opportunities in the country and has served as a highly competitive playing field for many major bass tournaments over the years.

2021 schedule 

“We are extremely excited to give our college anglers the opportunity to compete on Lake Chickamauga,” said Kevin Hunt, MLF Senior Director of Tournament Operations, College and High School. “This will be the first experience for many college anglers on this fishery, and with the tournament set for late March we expect to see plenty of big bass and an awesome competition.”

The two-day event will be hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council, a proud and prominent supporter of bass fishing and the substantial economic impact it brings to the region.

“Fish Dayton is thrilled to host the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing Open on Lake Chickamauga,” said John Bamber, Executive Director of Rhea Economic and Tourism. “We are excited to see some great weights brought in by these talented college anglers and are thankful for their stewardship of this fishery.”

The 60-mile-long impoundment of the Tennessee River provides diverse cover and substantial space for the hundreds of anglers and boats that will be competing in the event. The top 20 teams from the 2021 College Fishing Open advance to the 2022 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance, where the top two teams will advance to the 2022 Toyota Series Championship to compete as pros, for a shot at winning as much as $235,000. In addition to the automatic berth into the 2022 College Fishing National Championship, the first-place team will also earn a new Phoenix 518 Pro boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard, valued at $33,500. Additional teams will qualify for the National Championship if the Open field size exceeds 200 boats.

As in all College Fishing events, the College Fishing Open at Lake Chickamauga will feature live weigh-in coverage on both days of competition.

Priority entry for the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI season opens at 8 a.m. CT on December 14, 2020, for teams from schools represented in the 2020 College Fishing National Championship. All other teams may enter beginning December 15, 2020. Teams can enter at FLWFishing.com or by calling (270) 252-1000. The entry fee remains the same for 2021 – $75 per team for teams who enter prior to onsite check-in and $100 for teams who enter onsite.

Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western. The top ten teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing Open advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance.

Complete rules for the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing program can be found online at FLWFishing.com.


Fish Dayton’s Michael Neal Edges Lee by 1 Ounce for a $50,000 Check

Published on MajorLeagueFishing.com by Mason Prince  – September 4, 2020

There are not many opportunities in life to catch a $50,000 bass. The season’s Heavy Hitters tournament on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes was an event like we’d never seen before in the history of professional bass fishing: massive payouts for the winner and the biggest bass of each day of competition.

The angler who weighed in the biggest bass of the Knockout Round would take home $50,000. With only about 20 minutes remaining in the round, it looked as though the eventual winner of Heavy Hitters—Jordan Lee—was going to collect the big check with his 8-pound, 14-ounce monster.

As Lee remained comfortable with his big fish and his big lead on SCORETRACKER®, Michael Neal was surprisingly struggling for the majority of the day.

“I went into the round expecting it to be a pretty decent day considering how I did in the first two rounds,” Neal remembered. “I didn’t catch a scorable bass for two periods, so that pretty much sealed my fate in not making the cut for the Championship Round.”

Neal admitted that his head wasn’t really in the game during that final period. With temperatures soaring above 90 and little cloud cover or wind to speak of, he was ready to call it a day and head on in. But there was something about one area in particular that he couldn’t get out of his brain.

“At the start of Period 3, I had one area that I kept circling multiple times just trying to catch enough fish to work,” Neal said. “I caught a couple of 2-pounders, but nothing really to put me in contention. Then, kind of out of nowhere, I ran into that big one.”

On the edge of a hydrilla bed in about 6 feet of water, Neal finally got a big one to bite. With only 20 minutes left in the round, he had a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Black and Blue ChatterBait with a 4 1/4-inch Big Bite Cane Thumper trailer tied on when something big took his bait.

Michael Neal shows off his 8-15 largemouth he caught with 20 minutes remaining in Period 3. (MLF Fishing)

“The fish never jumped the entire time I had it hooked until it got right up next to the boat,” Neal recalled. “I thought it was probably a mudfish or something like that, not a bass. I had no idea what was even leading for big fish of the day because I was so far out of contention. I weighed it and it was 8-15, and that’s when my official told me I had the biggest fish of the day. I looked at him and said, ‘What? Are you serious?’”

Neal’s 8-15 held the top spot for the final 20 minutes as he edged out Jordan Lee by 1 ounce for the biggest bass of the Knockout Round. While he didn’t move on to the Championship Round, a $50,000 check sure is a nice consolation prize.

As for Lee, even though he won the Heavy Hitters event and an Angler of the Year title in 2020, he still thinks about the 1 ounce that cost him some extra cash.

“Losing that big fish of the day by 1 ounce is just brutal,” Lee recapped. “I really thought I had that $50,000 locked up with that 8-14. If someone had caught a 10- or 11-pounder, I would have been able to live with that. But to lose by 1 ounce was just really hard. I’m happy for Michael, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.”

TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga High School postponed to September 24-25

Due to COVID-19 Virus, this tournament has been postponed to September 24-25

Registration has opened for the 2020 TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga High School Classic.  This signature event presented by CATCH Ministry and will blast off in #BassTownUSA, Dayton, Tennessee, on April 4.


Past events have shattered records and attracted anglers from around the nation to compete in what has become known as the “most exciting high school event in the nation”.

“We’re extremely excited and working hard to make this year’s event the best yet,” says Fish Dayton, Director John Bamber who’s encouraging competitors to register now.

With an actual cannon firing during blast-off, a championship belt, and weigh-in on a full concert stage equipped with “hot seat”, high school anglers enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity to compete on Lake Chickamauga, one of the hottest trophy-sized bass lakes in the nation.

Throw in monster prizes and a cash pool larger than 100% of registration fees thanks to many sponsors: including title sponsor TowBoatUS, Bass Pro Shops, Real Deal Tackle, Bunch Marine, Shimano, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Frogg Toggs, and Solar Bat to name a few, and you can easily see how past events shattered all-time bass tournament records.

Shane and Stacey O’Neil of TowBoatUS upped the ante last year with a $2,000 check which was awarded to Chase McCoullough and Tyler Padgett of Coahulla Creek High School as they were crowned 2019 champs.

“Proud to be a sponsor for this event since the beginning.  This is by far our favorite tournament of the year!” says Stacey O’Neil of TowBoatUS.

In 2017, a field of 347 boats and 1,033 participants was easily the largest in tournament history.  The event also broke many B.A.S.S. records such as largest five fish limit and biggest bass in a high school event.

In 2015, Soddy Daisy High School’s Elijah Cartwright and Jacob Thomas dropped a five fish limit worth 32.59 pounds on the scales to win the inaugural title.

But it’s not the trophy-sized bass, championship belt, or bright lights that brings scores of volunteers from CATCH Ministry to support and help organize the event.

“For us, it’s about sharing the gospel for us.  We’re just excited to be able to have an impact and opportunity to make a difference in these young lives,” says CATCH Ministry’s Kevin Johnson.

“These kids are worth the effort and that’s why we do what we do,” adds Keith Gombash of CATCH Ministry who as the event’s stage announcer, knows how to bring out the Elite Series Pro in all competitors – even the shy ones.

In addition to the high school event, there will also be junior event for younger anglers that runs concurrent with the high school event.  Juniors will weigh-in on the same stage one hour earlier.

Organizers are encouraging anglers to register now, so go ahead and book stay at one of Dayton’s angler-friendly lodging options.

Registrants will also receive an $8 voucher to use at their choice at one of Dayton’s participating restaurants.

There will be a mandatory Safety and Rules meeting at the Dayton Boat Dock & Grill on Friday, April 3, at 7 PM EST.



Dayton is also the perfect place for families to visit and support their favorite high school angler.  Since the first Battle of Chickamauga Classic in 2015, there has been over 13 million dollars in private capital invested in lodging and dining alone.

As event sponsors, Dayton’s new Sleep Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express fully support high school fishing and have ample accommodations guests and their boats.

Register or learn more about the TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga here. Learn more on their Facebook page or by contacting John Bamber with the Rhea County Economic and Tourism Council at 423-775-6171 or john@rheaecd.com.

Terry Tucker wins Ultimate Match Fishing on Chickamauga Lake

Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Alabama won the inaugural Pelicanʼs Ultimate Match Fishing Invitational fishing tournament on Chickamauga Lake. The event took place May 27 and 28 on Lake Chickamauga with anglers fishing out of Dayton, Tennessee.

The field, consisting of the top BFL anglers in the nation, competed in a standard tournament format on day one with the two top finishers competing head-to-head on day two under Ultimate Match Fishing rules for the top prize of $20,000 dollars and a chance to fish against the top FLW and BASS Elite Series pro anglers on Pelicanʼs Ultimate Match Fishing on Outdoor Channel in 2018.

Jimmy Washam of Covington, Tennessee took first place on day one with a 5-bass limit of 21.61 pounds. Tucker finished day one in second place with 21.36 pounds.

Jimmy Washam and Terry Tucker of Gadsden, Alabama get set to go one-on-one for the $20,000 first place prize and a chance to fish against the pros on Pelican’s UMF in 2018. (Photo: Gary Bolden)

The first and second place anglers, Washam and Tucker, met again on day two, competing head-to-head under UMF format rules. For four grueling 90-minute quarters Washam and Tucker battled under the watchful eye of UMF Referee Mark Randolph with UMF hosts Fish Fishburne and Joe Thomas calling the play by play. In the end, Tucker overcame 2 full pounds of penalties to narrowly edge Jimmy Washam by just over a pound. The entire match will air later this year exclusively on Outdoor Channelʼs streaming site.

With the victory, Tucker pockets $20,000 dollars and a birth in Pelicanʼs Ultimate Match Fishing in 2018 to fish against the top professional bass anglers from both the FLW Tour and the BASS Elite Series to air exclusively on Outdoor Channel.

The first and second place anglers, Washam and Tucker, met again on day two, competing head-to-head under UMF format rules. The competition between the two was emceed live by UMF hosts Fish Fishburne and Joe Thomas calling the play by play. (Photo: Gary Bolden)

An obviously emotional Tucker, who has been through some physical challenges over the past several years told the crowd, “Win or lose, it just meant a lot to me to know that I could still do it. That even after what Iʼve been through, I could still compete against these young guys.”

See the full tournament results at www.ultimatematchfishing.com.

Fish Dayton welcomes Costa FLW Series this Week on Lake Chickamauga


DAYTON, Tenn. – As many as 450 pros and co-anglers are set to compete May 4-6 in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finale on Lake Chickamauga. The tournament, presented by Lowrance, is the final regular-season event of 2017 scheduled in the Southeastern Division. Pros will be competing for a top award of up to $50,000 in cash and a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

“There’s going to be a lot of bass and a lot of big limits caught in this event,” said FLW Tour pro Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tennessee, who won the FLW Tour event at Lake Chickamauga in 2015. “There should be a lot of fish heading offshore right now because the spawn is just about over. I would say it’s going to be a postspawn deal, but there could be a twist. This week we’ve had a lot of rain and we are supposed to get more.”

Wooley said that following a lot of rain, the river runs high and bass seek protection in creeks from the strong current. With that in mind, competitors who originally planned to fish solely offshore may need to make adjustments.

“It’s only a forecast though, so nothing is guaranteed,” said Wooley. “If we do get the rain docks will be a big player, as well as grass up the river. In grassy areas, I’d use a ChatterBait or any kind of soft-plastics. On the docks, I’d flip a jig or maybe even throw a wacky-rigged worm.”

Wooley said that areas near Chester Frost Park will be a good bet for anglers who choose to target offshore bass.

“Chester Frost Park is a really prime area for catching offshore bass,” said Wooley. “I won the Tour event near there and the dam in 2015. If I were competing, I’d throw a big swimbait – they’ll eat it up – or a (Strike King) 6XD or 10XD crankbait.”

The Tennessee pro said a three-day cumulative weight of 70 pounds should be enough to take home top honors.

Anglers will take off from the Dayton Boat Dock, located at 175 Lakeshore St. in Dayton at 6:30 a.m. EDT each day. Weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. The event is hosted by the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council.

In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event. At Lake Chickamauga, pros will fish for as much as $50,000 and a Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard if Ranger Cup qualified. Co-anglers will cast for a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard and an additional $1,250 if Ranger Cup qualified.

The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Costa FLW Series Championship. The 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship is being held Nov. 2-4 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

About FLW

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Snapchat.

Records broke and history made at the 2017 Battle of Chick

DAYTON, Tenn. — A field of 347 boats and 1,033 total participants took part in Saturday’s Costa Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Chickamauga Lake.

The event broke records before the first cast was made, with the largest field in B.A.S.S. history. Then once the fishing began, the records just kept falling.

Logan Henderson and Steven Swann from the Springville (Ala.) Anglers won with a 24-pound, 1-ounce limit of bass that now ranks as the largest ever caught in a B.A.S.S. high school event. They finished just ahead of Colton Williams and Chase Taylor of the Good Hope (Ala.) fishing team, who placed second with 22-11.

The previous record catch of 23-14 was caught by Alex Heintze and Justin Watts in 2015.

“It started off kind of slow for us,” said Henderson, a sophomore at Springville High School in St. Clair County, Ala. “Then we caught one about 5 pounds — Steven did — and at about 10:15(a.m.), we caught one that weighed 8-3.

“Then from about 10:15 until about noon, it just got slow.”

Henderson and Swann caught all of their fish around brushpiles in 12 to 15 feet. They couldn’t get the bass to bite anything but a Strike King 5XD crankbait — but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“We fished a football head jig and a spoon, but we couldn’t get them to hit either one,” Swann said. “All of a sudden, from about 1 to 3, they just started biting again.”

It was the first trip for the pair to Chickamauga, and they only had about a day and a half to practice. Their boat captain, Kenny Pannell, who is also Logan’s grandfather, arrived a day earlier than the youngsters and did a little scouting himself.

There were moments of anxiety for the winning team during the midday lull — even with two big fish already in the livewell.

“It’s tough, because you’re anticipating another big one,” Henderson said. “We didn’t want to waste those two big ones we had already caught.

“We finally changed areas, and the second spot where we started catching them had brush that was a little more scattered.”

Henderson and Swann knew by the time they got to the weigh-in stage that they would need a big weight to replace Williams and Taylor as the leaders. The eventual second-place finishers weighed in early, and had been sitting in the hot seat with 22-11 for more than an hour when Henderson and Swann took the stage.

The impressive catch of Williams and Taylor was anchored by a largemouth that weighed 7-10.

“We pulled up on a spot where we knew there was some grass, but we didn’t catch anything for about 30 minutes,” Taylor said. “We moved a little deeper and started catching them. That was the only spot we stayed in all day.”

The spot, which was only about 20 feet long, was the kind of place tournament anglers of all ages dream of finding.

“We caught 43 fish out of that one spot,” Williams said. “It was just a lucky spot that we had never fished before.”

The anglers stayed with their special spot as long as they could. But with boat troubles dogging them throughout the day, they decided to make a 35-minute run back to another spot that was closer to the launch site.

Fishing was much tougher for them after the move.

“I know we could have caught another kicker if we could have stayed there longer,” Taylor said.

Taylor spent most of his day using a 1/2-ounce chartreuse ChatterBait with a small swimbait trailer. Williams said he used a 1/2-ounce crawfish-colored Rat-L-Trap.

Another record that fell was the largest bass ever caught during a B.A.S.S. high school event. Chase Carter and Adam Sansom of the North West Georgia Anglers established a new mark — one that will be hard to top in the future — with a largemouth that weighed 10-11.

On a day when numerous bass in the 7- to 8-pound range were caught, Carter and Sansom easily earned the award for Big Bass.

“He thought he had a catfish,” said Sansom, a high school junior. “But then when that thing opened its mouth, my heart just stopped.”

Carter, a freshman, had a similar reaction.

“It probably took me an hour to stop shaking,” he said.

Rounding out the Top 5 were Houston Calvert and Chase Abbott, Cold Springs Fishing Team (20-14), Justin Lowery and James Cobbs, Cullman High School (20-7) and Chace Gregory and Tucker Weidler, Helena High School (20-6).

The Top 35 teams from the event qualified for the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, scheduled for June 19-24 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.

Bryan College Anglers ranked Number One in Nation

Nathan Bell and Dylan Pritchett finished 7th and 15th place respectively at Kentucky Lake on Saturday

March 16, 2017

Dayton, Tenn. — The temperature dropped drastically and the snow turned Kentucky Lake into a whiteout over the weekend, but that didn’t hinder the Bryan College Lions Fishing Team who weathered the wintry mix and battled their way to 7th and 15th place finishes at the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley on Saturday, Mar. 11, to surge ahead of the competition and dethrone Auburn University (Ala.) and claim the No. 1 spot in the country.

Dylan Pritchettt hold up his fish that garnered a 15th place finish for Bryan College on Saturday

The format of the 2017 Big Bass Bash had already been changed from a two-day event to a one-day event due the chance of inclement weather. The previous standings for Cabela’s School of the Year had University of Alabama, University of North Alabama, and University of South Carolina also ahead of Bryan, but the 513 points awarded to Nathan Bell (SR/Riceville, Tenn.) for his 6.81lber and 505 points given to Dylan Pritchett (JR/Evensville, Tenn.) after his 6.39lb catch helped the young Lions program make a rippling splash in collegiate fishing to lead the race for School of the Year.

In just their third year in existence, Bryan has fished their way through a tough body of water with no divisions or conferences, meaning that all schools in the nation are facing off for the Cabela’s School of the Year title. The 634 points compiled before the Big Bass Bash grew by more than a grand with the Lions now at 1,652 for the year.

The Big Bass Bash is a highly anticipated event for the schools vying for School of the Year, because of the large field of anglers that enter the event, which in turn allows for a large amount of points to be earned. The prize gets even sweeter with Cabela’s taking the top two finishes of each team, and each angler is considered a team. “You have to do well at the Big Bass Bash for a chance at becoming School of the Year,” explained Bell.

Even though fellow rival Bethel University (Tenn.) took the top honors with an 8.49lber and placed 6th with a 6.85lber, they closed the gap by only 15 points. Consistency has been key for the Lions with top finishes in every tournament this season, and that will play a major role in Bryan guarding the number one ranking.

Because of his experience, Bell didn’t let the mental game start playing tricks on him. “The day before I didn’t think the conditions were going to affect the fishing,” said Bell. “I have fished enough to know that when weather drastically changes that the fish will still bite. It’s normally the day after that you can start to notice the difference.”

He wasn’t nervous about the fish biting, but he did think that the approach would need to be different to get a big bite. Bell remarked, “I told my partner, Cole Sands (SO/Calhoun, Tenn.), that we would need to slow the pace down. Some of the guys wouldn’t be able to reach their spots, but all we needed was to catch two fish over 6lbs to lead in School of the Year.”

The tournament was broke into eight sessions, and the top-10 in each would win prizes. Bryan’s Dylan Kear (JR/Clinton, Tenn.) was the only one on the team to land a large enough fish to place through the first two sessions. Pritchett helped Bryan feel more comfortable when he placed 3rd in session three presented by Cabela’s with one of the 6lbers that Bell said the Lions would need. It wasn’t until session six that Connor Cohran (FR/Dalton, Ga.) and Jonathan Peck broke the silence with fish that neared the 5lb mark for 6th and 7th finishes during that particular weigh-in.

The Lions entered the final session, session eight presented by Engel Coolers & Costa Sunglasses, in need of one more 6lber, and it was Bell who delivered for Bryan. “When I caught the fish with just an hour left, I knew we killed it,” said Bell. “We had been fishing shallow all day, but Sands had the idea to go over to a deep spot. On my first cast of the last session, I felt it reach bottom and took it about two feet before the huge hit.”

When asked about how he felt helping the Lions to take over as the No. 1 team in the nation, Bell explained, “We are all excited about the honor to become the leader in the running for School of the Year. It’s entirely a team effort, and the cool thing is it takes all of us to outlast these large colleges and universities since there are no divisions. The strong finish in the Big Bass Bash sets us up really good for the top-10 in School of the Year, because all of the other schools close to us in the race have already participated in their regional tournament. We haven’t fished our BASS regional, which will provide us with even more points.”

Head Bryan Fishing Coach, Mike Keen said, “I am extremely proud of these guys. They have worked very hard to reach this milestone. This is the reward of a total team effort. Now we move our focus to placing high in each tournament in order to protect our No. 1 spot.”

Up next for the Lions, they travel to Lake Hartwell in Hartwell, S.C. this weekend for the FLW Southeastern Regional on Saturday, Mar. 18, and follow it up with the Cabela’s College Open on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark. next Saturday, Mar. 25.


2016 Bass Pro Shops’ Big Bass Tour comes to Dayton

Over $75k to be awarded at Bass Pro Shops’ Big Bass Tour this Wkd in Dayton, May 21-22

big_bass_tour_logo_white (1)One special fish could win a new boat and loads of cash at Bass Pro Shops’ Big Bass Tour this weekend in Dayton, Tennessee.

Lake Chickamauga is the seventh stop in the nation’s premier big bass tournament series brought to you by industry giants such as Bass Pro Shops, Nitro Boats, GoPro, Huk Performance Fishing, Shimano, Mercury, and Oakley.

“Anyone can win this one. You need one big bite. One cast, one big bass.  This one here is anyone’s ballgame,” says local lunker hunter Chad Reel, who won Rhea Medical Foundation’s Big Bass Tourney last May with an 8.27 pound largemouth.

Reel and long-time partner Kevin Burnett say they are yet to fish a tournament this year, but this one’s too good to pass up.

“If you’re gonna fish a tournament where your odds are good, there isn’t another tournament you can enter for this price ($110 per day, $160 both days).”

Over $3,000 will be awarded each hour to the top ten bass with biggest paying $1,000.  Add the grand prize, 2016 Nitro Z18 with a Mercury 150HP ProXS motor ($33,175 as equipped), and it’s easy to see why this has become the hottest big bass series in the nation.

“Anyone can win this one,” adds Reel.  “You need one big bite to win – one cast, one big bass.”

Dayton pro Michael ‘The Real Deal’ Neal, fresh off a second place finish ($30,000) at Walmart FLW Tour’s Pickwick Lake event, says, “Fishing a big fish tournament is anybody’s game because there is more luck involved.”

“Don’t focus on catching numbers.  Throw the biggest bait in your tackle box all day,” is Neal’s best advice for anglers hoping to drive away with that new Nitro Z18.


Lake Chickamauga – Big Bass, Lots of Grass

Out of six events thus far in 2016, the largest bass in the series was caught prespawn (February 27-28) on the Harris Chain of Lakes (FL) weighing in at 8.94 pounds.

This is a great opportunity for Lake Chickamauga to show the nation what we’re all about.

Dennis Tumlin – RETC Director

If last weekend’s Morristown Marine Tournament (195 boats) is any indication, Lake Chickamauga will shatter that amount.

Josh Roark and partner Allen Smith (Morristown, TN) brought a 10.17 pounder to the scales, and we won’t mention the 12 plus pounder caught James Gobel of Bean Station (TN) earlier last week.

“It will definitely take at least 10.5 to 11.5 to win,” says FLW Pro Michael Neal who has a front row seat to current lake trends as proprietor of Dayton Boat Dock, a hub for area anglers and the venue for this event.

Rhea County’s Economic and Tourism Director Dennis Tumlin says Lake Chick has risen to every occasion and hopes it will shine again this weekend.

“This is a great opportunity for Lake Chickamauga to show the nation what we’re all about.  We have big bass and lots of grass.”

“I’ve been working to bring this event to Dayton for over three years,” says Tumlin.  “We’re excited to see our local anglers have the opportunity to fish one of the biggest tours in the nation right here in Dayton.”

For more details, visit bigbasstour.com.