GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The Florida Gateway College duo of Seth Slanker and Jackson Swisher, both of Lake City, Florida, won the MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Lake Guntersville Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces. The victory, which earned the Titans’ bass club $2,000, came after a season-opening sixth-place finish in January at the Harris Chain of Lakes, which earned the team a slot in the 2023 MLF College Fishing National Championship.
“We practiced all week to try to find shallow fish that had pulled up to try to spawn,” Slanker said. “Our first fish was a 5-pounder, then we had a few smaller fish, and as the day went on we culled up, and the last fish we culled was an 8-pounder, and that was our biggest fish.”
Slanker said the team caught about 45 bass during the course of the tournament, including 25 keepers. Their bait of choice was a red ½-ounce Z-Man Evergreen Chatterbait Jack Hammer. Slanker said the water temperature hovered at 60 degrees on the shallow grass flats they were targeting.
“The day was a day that was like it was meant to be,” said Swisher. “It was one of those days where you did no wrong.
“With the ChatterBait, we always struggle to land most of our fish,” Swisher added. “Every now and then with the ChatterBait you’re going to jump off a couple of big fish. During the tournament, though, they just chugged it. We were fishing slow and methodically and we were able to put together a big bag.
“It feels great to finally win one,” Swisher said. “We’d been close before, and I’d always wanted to win a College Fishing event before I graduated. And it felt good to win it doing something we like doing – fishing shallow, spawning fish.”
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2023 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: Florida Gateway College – Seth Slanker and Jackson Swisher, both of Lake City, Fla., five bass, 29-12, $2,000
2nd: Catawba Valley Community College – Cabe Mackey, Denver, N.C., and Nathan Smith, Granite Falls, N.C., five bass, 24-14, $1,000
3rd: Mississippi State University – James Broderick, Birmingham, Ala., and James Ikerd, Canton, Ga., five bass, 23-12, $500
4th: University of North Alabama – Chandler Brewer, Meridianville, Ala., and Walker Brown, Loretto, Tenn., five bass, 23-8, $500
5th: University of Tennessee – Joseph Bissing, Libertyville, Ill., and Jackson Payden, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 21-13, $500
6th: Central Alabama Community College – Jackson Kelly and Brody Milstead, both of Alexander City, Ala., five bass, 20-14
7th: Southeastern Louisiana University – Wyatt Ensminger, Pride, La., five bass, 20-6
8th: Carson Newman University – Brady Duncan, Lebanon, Tenn., and Steven Mills, White Bluff, Tenn., five bass, 20-4
9th: Auburn University – Hayden Marbut, Birmingham, Ala., and Garrett Warren, Hoover, Ala., five bass, 20-2
10th: Wabash Valley College – Mason Gross, Carmi, Ill., and Isaac Irvin, Harrisburg, Ill., five bass, 20-1
MLF also advances one additional team to the National Championship for every 10 teams over 100 that compete. A total of 219 teams participated in this event, so also advancing to the 2023 College Fishing National Championship are:
11th: Bryan College – Justin Botts, Bluff City, Tenn., and Conner Dimauro, Longwood, Fla., five bass, 19-11
12th: Florida Gateway College – Chase Hubble, Plant City, Fla., and Brent May, five bass, 19-9
13th: Bethel University – Colten Drawdy, Plant City, Fla., and Braden Leffew, Lebanon, Tenn., five bass, 19-8
14th: Lander University – Ryan Latham, Greenwood, S.C., and Caleb Sheldon, Lexington, S.C., five bass, 19-7
15th: University of Montevallo – Cal Culpepper, Hamilton, Ga., and Easton Fothergill, Grand Rapids, Minn., five bass, 19-3
16th: University of North Alabama – Tyler Finley, Mount Pleasant, Tenn., and Lane Lassiter, McMinnville, Tenn., five bass, 19-3
17th: Georgia College – Dawson Ricks, Milledgeville, Ga., and David Stith, Mabelton, Ga., five bass, 19-2
18th: Bryan College – Austin Goins, Dayton, Tenn., and Tim Herrmann, Groveland, Ill., five bass, 19-1
19th: Bethel University – Matthew Cummings, Union City, Tenn., and Levi Mullins, Nineveh, Ind., five bass, 18-14
20th: Auburn University – Cody Griffith, and Drew Jennings, both of Auburn, Ala., five bass, 18-11
21st: Blue Mountain College – John Berry, Mount Olive, Miss., and Blake Bullock, Seminary, Miss., five bass, 18-8
Complete results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Lake Guntersville was hosted by Marshall County Tourism and Sports. It was the second of three regular-season tournaments for Southeastern Conference anglers. The next event for College Fishing anglers will be the Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, March 11 in Brookeland, Texas.
MLF College Fishing teams compete in three regular-season tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top 10 teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing Open will advance to the following season’s National Championship. The 2022 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship Presented by Lowrance will be held on Fort Gibson Lake in Wagoner, Oklahoma, March 29-31, and is hosted by the Wagoner Area Chamber of Commerce.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.