Battling tough winds and a late, slow bite, the University of Texas-Tyler team of Charlie Brown and Matthew McClellan won the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southern Conference event on Toledo Bend Saturday with four bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.
The victory earned the team $5,000 and also helped them advance to the Southern Conference Championship.
“We didn’t get our first fish until after 11 a.m.,” said McClellan, a senior majoring in Kinesiology. “We had a pretty good practice and with wind were able to find fish in shallow grassy points. The wind was blowing about 15-20 miles per hour this morning so we decided to start shallow. We made about a 10 mile run and at 10 when we didn’t have a bite we decided to move to a location closer to the launch site. By 10:30 we still didn’t have a bite so we decided to go deep.
“We had graphed a location that was full of concrete and brush about 10 to 12 feet deep,” McClellan continued. “At 11 a.m. we finally caught our first keeper, it was over 6-pounds! We then got a 4-pounder followed by a 1 ½-pounder and the last fish we caught was a 4-pounder all within 45 minutes. We just ran out of time; I think if we would have gotten to this spot earlier we would have caught our limit and could have easily gotten a 20 pound sack.
“Once we moved deep we switched to a football head jig. You really needed something that you could feel the bottom.”
This was the first year the pair of seniors from the University of Texas – Tyler fished together as a team. Finishing in the top-10 in the previous three Southern Conference events, McClellan and Brown missed making the top-five cut by ounces to qualify for the southern conference championship making this victory even sweeter.
“Toledo Bend is renowned for fishing deep,” said Brown a senior finance major. “I knew the tournament couldn’t be won shallow, but with the wind and cloud cover this morning we thought the bass would be feeding off the shallow banks so decided to start on grassy humps with swim jigs and frogs. By mid morning we decided that clearly wasn’t working so decided to go deep.
“The bite was really slow,” Brown continued. “You really had to fish very slow and methodically. But, like Matthew said, I think if we would have gone to our deep spot a little earlier we would have had a huge sack, we just didn’t have enough time there to get it today.
Brown who will celebrate his birthday tomorrow said of their victory that this was an early present for him.
Rounding out the top five teams and also advancing to the Southern Conference Championship are:
2nd: Angelo State – Josh Seale and Ethan George, 12-14, $1,500
3rd: Arkansas Tech University – Reagan Moore and Evan Barnes, 10-11, $1,000
4th: Lamar University – Danny Iles and Justin Royal, 10-5, $1,000
5th: Louisiana State University-Shreveport – Joseph Landry and Gavin Havard, 9-1, $1,000