A Western Carolina University fishing team won the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Tournament on Lake Norman in March with a three-day total of 15 bass, weighing 42 pounds 6 ounces.
More than 200 collegiate bass anglers – 108 teams from seven states – competed in the tournament, which was held at was held March 26-28 at Blythe Landing in Cornelius.
In addition to a chance to win the tournament, the top 17 teams earned a berth in the 2015 National Championship, to be held this summer. The date and location has not been announced.
The first day, March 26, was beautiful – warm and breezy. March 27 was cold, windy and raining, and March 28 was cold, with temperatures in the 30s, and windy. Whitecaps were on the lake at takeoff – not the best weather for a tournament.
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The final weigh-in was held at the Bass Pro Store in Concord on Saturday. A big crowd of families, friends and fellow students attended to cheer for their favorite team.
Western Carolina anglers Austin Neary, 21, of Annapolis, Md., a senior majoring in entrepreneur management, and Alex Frazier, 21, a criminal justice major from Columbus won the tournament.
This was the first event for Frazier and could have been the last college event for Neary, who graduates in May. Neary said the team followed the advice of well-known pro angler Mike Iaconelli, which helped them win.
Iaconelli “said you only need three patterns to win most events,” he said. “We used a drop-shot, a jerkbait and a worm, and he was right. All of our areas set up for those three patterns. We fished windy marinas and caught spawners off their beds.”
The UNC Charlotte 2014 reigning national champion team, Jake Whitaker and Andrew Helms, were ready to defend their title, along with eight other teams from their school. But they ended up in 13th place.
Thursday’s leaders were Blythe Cole and John Auten of UNC Charlotte. Cole caught the big bass of the tournament at 6 pounds, 10 ounces. The team also won the Bass Pro Nitro Big Bag Award of the event, with their Day 1 weight of 16 pounds, 12 ounces.
The second-place team, from Catawba, was a brother-and-sister team of Chelsey Queen, 21, and Kristopher Queen, 18, fishing for Bethel University in Tennessee. She is a nursing major, and he is majoring in business management. They took second place with 40 pounds, 11 ounces.
Several weeks ago, Kristopher and his dad, Jeff, won the Ledbetter Tournament.
Kelly Johnson and Jeremy Gilley of Appalachian State came in third place, with 39 pounds, 14 ounces.
Carson Orellana, 19, of Mooresville fished for the local campus of Strayer University. He earned sixth place, with 37 pounds, 2 ounces.
Lou Mintzer is a freelance writer. Contact Lou at email@example.com if you have a story idea.