As the host team, there were expectations for Brad Rutherford and Matthew Peeler of Young Harris College to fish well on the mountain reservoir in the backyard of their college campus.
The pair didn’t fold to the pressure, placing second at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship tournament on Lake Chatuge Aug. 1-3.
Brad and Matthew, along with the four other college teams that placed in the Top-5, now advance to the individual competition at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Bracket Championship on Sept. 28-29 on Michigan’s Spring Lake. The anglers from the Top-5 teams will fish for top individual honors, and that angler will earn a spot in the Bassmaster Classic next February on Lake Guntersville.
Brad and Matthew had the best final-day catch, a five-bass limit that weighed 12-lbs., 9-ozs, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the eventual champions, a team from Auburn University-Montgomery (AUM).
AUM’s Tom Frink Jacob Nummy got the win on Lake Chatuge. The pair tallied a three-day total of 43-lbs., 3-ozs. and won the tournament by 6-lbs., 11-ozs.
Tom hails from Simi Valley, Calif. and has bass fishing in his pedigree. He came east with professional bass fishing as his goal. He has lived in Alabama with professional fishermen Aaron Martens and Kotaro Kiriyama. He knew both anglers while living in California.
“I came east because that’s where I knew I needed to be to become a professional fisherman,” Tom said. “It’s pretty exciting knowing that I am as close as I am to fishing in a Classic this early in my career.”
Jacob, meanwhile, is from Prattville, Ala. and grew up bass fishing with his grandfather. He started the AUM Anglers club four years ago with the hopes of one day bringing recognition to the school’s fishing team.
Jacob says winning the national championship is what it’s all about for him.
“This is something our fishing team has been working toward a long time,” he said. “Having the chance to fish in the Bassmaster Classic is wonderful, but I’m just happy winning the national championship.”
“We had a decent pre-fish using rats and swimbaits, but the bass didn’t bite good on the first day of the tournament,” Tom said.
“But that first day is what saved us. Things didn’t go how we thought they would. We learned that we had to hunker down and throw the rat.”
Jacob said things turned around dramatically that second day, and when the day was over, their team was leading.
“We had some key bites and things go right that second day,” Jacob said.
The team caught one 5-pounder and two 4-pounders on the second day. By the end of the day, they found themselves in the lead.
Sixty-eight collegiate teams competed in the National Championship event. The other top teams from Georgia were Tanner Parker and Trent Palmer of Georgia Southern University, who placed eight, and Byron Kenney and Brian Rosso of the University of Georgia, who finished 10th.