FLORENCE, AL. –Friday 330 of college fishing's best anglers took to Pickwick Lake with hopes of taking home the title, and later only two competitors left with the championship trophy. Carter McNeil and Cole Floyd of Bethel University were the winners of the 2018 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. Bringing 25.12 pounds to the scales on Day two, McNeil and Floyd led the field by more than six pounds with a two day total of 47.75 pounds.
The Day one leaders entered the final day of tournament competition with a slim lead over second place. Leading by 0.03 pounds, their margin of error was small. "We knew we had to bust them. We knew we had some guys on our tail," says Floyd. By 7:45 am their nerves began to settle. McNeil and Floyd had a limit weighing 11 pounds in the box within the first hour and a half of tournament competition.
From there on out, the pair went to work upgrading their limit. Fishing multiple offshore spots, the Bethel anglers knew it was paramount to manage their fish, "We had several different schools of fish, and we went in with a game plan. We're going to take our best so many and we're going to rotate them," recounts McNeil. Working a variety of baits including crankbaits, soft plastics, and a jigging spoon, at around 8:15 am they culled up significantly. The team landed one fish weighing four and a half pounds, and another weighing six pounds. Those two fish catches boosted their bag well up over 19 pounds at the time. "I think we managed our time right on it, and hit it at the necessary times. Just rotating them schools and jumping back and forth really paid off for us today," said McNeil.
Good decision making paid off to the tune of 25.12 pounds and a championship title for McNeil and Floyd. With little to no experience on Pickwick Lake entering the event, Floyd was overjoyed with the result, "Just going out there and catching the winning bag on the place, it made it really special." His fishing partner McNeil was also overcome by their achievement, "It feels awesome, and this is what every college kid dreams of. We really focused, and grinded through practice and the tournament. We are fortunate and blessed to come up with some fish that got us this championship."
Finishing in second place when the scales closed was the Bryan College team of Nathan Bell and Cole Sands.
Rounding out the top three for the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Cabela's was a pair of anglers from the University of North Alabama. Last year, the UNA team of Sloan Pennington and Hunter McCarty won this very tournament.
Following the conclusion of the final weigh-in, a champion was named in the Cabela's School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Bethel University entered this event with over a 600 point lead, and they left Florence as the best school in the nation. The University of North Alabama, and Murray State University rounded out the top three in that order.
The Wildcats were awarded the Cabela's School of the Year Award. Bethel is the first school to capture the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship and the Cabela's School of the Year award in the same year.
Contributors to this story:
Collegiatebassfishing.com & Bethel SID Office