The Bryan College fishing team has been on a hot streak for quite a while now. Starting with the Lions 2nd place finish back in August in the Bassmaster National Championship, the Lions have recorded a top 10 in each of their last five events. Thanks to the team of Ethan Shaw and Thad Simerly, the Lions were able to extend that streak to six after placing 8th in the first FLW Southeastern Conference tournament of the season that took place on Friday, Feb. 7.
When the 140 college teams began arriving on the banks of Lake Seminole for the first event of the season, the conditions were ideal for the bass to be biting.
A strong southern wind brought in warm weather, clouds, and rain for the couple days of practice. Many reports of good fish catches were mentioned from multiple collegiate fishing programs. The day of the tournament was a completely different story, however. Thursday saw temperatures reaching the 80s but an extreme cold front pushed in that night to meet the anglers with tough fishing conditions for Friday, the day of the tournament. Bluebird skies, huge waves, and strong winds were among the obstacles that the anglers had to overcome. With the top ten percent of anglers competing for a qualifying spot into the 2021 FLW National Championship, everyone was fighting for a top 14 finish.
The duo of Ethan Shaw and Thad Simerly are currently on a roll with two top 10 finishes alone this past month. The team finished 4th a few weeks ago in the Bassmaster College event on Toledo Bend and earned themselves another top 10 finish this past Friday by placing 8th in the FLW event on Lake Seminole. With tough conditions, the team was only able to capitalize on three bites throughout the day. Luckily for them, they were the right three bites with their total going 12 pounds 9 ounces. Shaw connected with their kicker of the day which was a giant Lake Seminole bass that weighed a whopping 7 pounds 1 ounce. The fish bit on the edge of a dock and fell victim to a spinnerbait. A chatterbait was key for the anglers to wrangle in their other two keepers.
Another team that has been on fire is the team of Conner DiMauro and Cole Sands. The duo was able to land four keepers for a total of 11 pounds 1 ounce which was good enough to squeeze in the cut line and finish 13th. The two anglers also finished 13th at the Toledo Bend Bassmaster event. The team had a terrific practice but were unable to get to their fish during the day of the tournament due to dangerously rough water and technical difficulties. Dimauro and Sands decided to play it safe and fish their plan B area closer to the launch. The decision paid off as they were able to capture just enough weight to earn a qualifying spot into the 2021 FLW National Championship. Two of the teams’ keepers came off a white chatterbait, while the other two keepers ate a black and blue chatterbait.
Bringing in Bryan’s only five-bass limit was the team of Mason Cizek and Jake Lee who brought in 8 pounds 5 ounces and finished 27th. Finishing 45th with three fish for 6 pounds and 3 ounces was Bryan’s Bailey Fain and Preston Kendrick. Brad Ableman and Wilson Smith from Bethel University earned top honors with a five-bass limit that went 19 pounds and 1 ounce.
The Lions next event will be the 2020 FLW National Championship and will take place February 26-28 on The Harris Chain of Lakes. To fish this tournament the anglers had to qualify in the 2019 season. The four teams that will be representing Bryan College are Cole Sands and Conner Dimauro, Jake Lee and Dalton Price, Andrew Fisher and Bennett Kudder, and Justin Botts.
To view the full results from Lake Seminole, click here