Bryan College takes top spot in Bassmaster Eastern Regional
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. —
Nathan Bell and Cole Sands of Bryan College in Dayton vaulted into the winner’s circle Saturday at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Regional on Cherokee Lake with a three-day total of 44 pounds, 4 ounces of bass.
Bell and Sands steadily climbed the leaderboard each day as they moved from fourth Thursday to third Friday and by day’s end Saturday, to the top spot. The Tennessee duo caught a final day limit of 15-3 to take the title by a mere 10 ounces over Tennessee Tech University.
“We thought we lost this tournament in the final few minutes of the day,” Sands said. “I hooked a big one that went crazy at the boat and broke off. I thought for sure that would cost us.”
In the end, the lost smallmouth didn’t hurt their day as they ended on top after their fishing pattern paid dividends in the long run. Sands and Bell utilized a Carolina Rig when they targeted deep smallmouth bass, but it wasn’t the ordinary run-of-the-mill Carolina Rig.
“We downsized everything to get as many bites as possible,” the team said. “We used lighter line, a subtle Gary Yamamoto Senko as our plastic and a lighter rod to ensure we didn’t pull it away from the fish or put too much pressure on the lighter line.”
The teammates overtook Tennessee Tech’s John Berry and Sam Carris, who held the lead the first two days but fell to second with only 12-3 on the final day. With a different wind direction, overcast skies and a lot of pressure on their areas, they caught more non-keepers on Saturday than any other day.
“They just didn’t bite for us today,” Berry said. “On Friday, we made key decisions that gave us 15-15, but today we missed out and didn’t make the correct decisions at the right time.”
Taking third place were John Garrett and Brian Pahl of Bethel University with a total of 41-12. The 2016 National Championship runner-ups punched their ticket again to the championship again this year. Garrett was the 2017 College Series qualifier for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
The Big Bass Award of the event went to Jacob Foutz and Jake Lee of Bryan College for their 4-6 smallmouth from Friday.
The Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 went to Carris and Berry for holding the lead going into the final day.
The Top 21 teams advanced from the Eastern Regional and will now fish the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops later this summer. Teams which didn’t qualify will have one final shot during the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card presented by Bass Pro Shops at Lay Lake, Alabama, June 8-10.
The Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Tenn. and Carson-Newman University hosted the event.