Kissimmee, FL – The best college fishing teams from across the nation will visit Kissimmee, Florida and Lake Toho next week, Jan. 9-11, for the 2024 Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship at Lake Toho.
Hosted by Experience Kissimmee, the 15th annual College Fishing National Championship will feature 138 teams of the nation’s best collegiate anglers competing for a $43,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, an additional $10,000 and the chance to advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship and REDCREST 2025 – MLF”s most prestigious championship – to fish for top prizes of $235,000 and $300,000, respectively.
“We’re excited to host the MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship for a second year,” said Tyler Weyant, Director of Sports Development at Experience Kissimmee. “Following the overwhelming success we had last year at Lake Toho, we are eager to invite everyone to join us once again and experience the excitement firsthand. In addition to the incredible action happening on the water, we encourage everyone to explore the local shops and restaurants that make Kissimmee truly unique.”
Both members of the winning team and the runners-up at the 2024 Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship will advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship, where they will compete as pros for a top prize of up to $235,000. The winning team’s highest finishing member at the Toyota Series Championship will advance to REDCREST 2025 to compete against the world’s best pros for the sport’s top prize of $300,000.
Both members of the third-place team at the College Fishing National Championship will advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship to compete as co-anglers for a shot at winning a $33,500 Phoenix 518 pro with a 115-horsepower outboard.
The Auburn University duo of Blake Milligan of Auburn, Alabama, and Matthew Parrish of Decatur, Alabama, will return to fish the College Fishing National Championship next week. Auburn University is the only college to have fished in the national championship every year since it’s inception, and the 2024 event will be Milligan’s fourth consecutive year to qualify for the event.
“We work hard toward qualifying for this all year long,” said Milligan. “The advancement opportunities to the Toyota Series Championship and to REDCREST allow us to get a foot in the door, and gives college anglers the opportunity to move on to the next level of professional fishing.”
After finishing atop the MLF College Fishing Southeastern Conference in 2021 and 2022, the Auburn team adjusted to the new National Conference with ease in 2023 and earned the Tackle Warehouse School of the Year Presented by QuikTrip title.
“I think our whole team is very much in unison right now,” said Milligan. “We’re excited to get into the year and super hyped up. Our teams are fishing the first event of the season on the Harris Chain on January 5th, then practice for the championship starts on the 7th. We have a bunch of guys down there ready to go and we are excited to carry this momentum into the first event of the year and into the national championship.
“I’m fishing with the same partner as last year,” continued Milligan. “We took 12th place in 2023, so I’m excited to get back to Kissimmee and hopefully build off what we learned and have an even better finish this year.”
Milligan, a senior double-majoring in business marketing and business management at Auburn, said his goal in this event is to finish better than he has in any past championship events.
“It’s hard to predict what the weights will be for this event,” said Milligan. “When we fished there last year, a nearly 30-pound-bag was weighed in on the final day, so I figure it will be up there. We had mid-teens on Day 1 and nearly 20 pounds on Day 2 and took 12th place, so I’d be super happy with high teens on the first two days. On the final day, it’s go big or go home, so we’ll just have to see.
“We found some good stuff in Kissimmee and Toho last year and we get a day and a half of practice before the event, so our plan is to run the stuff we found last year, and if that isn’t working, we will adjust and try to find something that will. We’re hoping the fish are in prespawn patterns by the time we get there. Kissimmee has some giant fish in it, so it will be a great event either way.”
Anglers will take off from Big Toho Marina, located at 69 Lakeview Drive, in Kissimmee at 7:30 a.m. ET each day of competition. Weigh-ins will be held at the marina starting at 3:30 p.m. and will be livestreamed daily. Fans are welcome to attend the event or tune in to the weigh-in and follow the online coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .
Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI teams compete in nine regular-season qualifying tournaments around the country. The top 12% of teams from each qualifying event advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship.
For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular College Fishing updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.