LEESBURG, Fla. – The Catawba Valley Community College duo of Will Hammond of Huntersville, North Carolina, and Cabe Mackey of Denver, North Carolina, won the MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Harris Chain of Lakes Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces. The victory earned the Red Hawks’ bass club $2,000 and a qualification into the 2024 MLF College Fishing National Championship.
It didn’t take long for the Red Hawks to get a jump on the field, even though Hammond said it was his first time to fish in Florida.
“We rolled up on our spot and I made the first cast and caught our big fish, which was almost an 8-pounder,” the freshman said. “Yeah … the first cast of the day. That fish was also my new personal best.”
Hammond said the duo focused on a shell bed in six feet of water and utilized a Carolina rig tipped with a large worm. He went on to say they found the shell bed in practice and knew it was in the vicinity of a spawning area and would be promising on tournament day.
“I knew in the back of my mind there would be all three stages of fish there,” Hammond said. “I knew it had post-spawn fish, pre-spawn fish and fish that were just starting to move up on beds. It was a staging place for the fish and a place I knew would constantly refresh.”
Hammond said the team sat on the shell bed all day and ended up catching 15 keepers during the event, including a 6-pounder to cull their smallest bass.
“This win hasn’t set in yet,” Hammond said. “I was very confident it was going to take much more to win than it did, so when I walked to the stage and saw 23 pounds was leading, it scared me for a second. But it is so cool to get this win for the school.”
A field of 233 teams competed Friday, meaning 27 teams qualified to compete in the 2024 College Fishing National Championship. The top 10 teams finished:
1st: Catawba Valley Community College – Will Hammond, Huntersville, N.C., and Cabe Mackey, Denver, N.C., five bass, 25-5, $2,000
2nd: Florida Gateway College – Seth Slanker and Jackson Swisher, both of Lake City, Fla., five bass, 23-9, $1,000
3rd: University of Central Florida – Justin Lawrence, Oviedo, Fla., and Grady Windham, Winter Park, Fla., five bass, 23-1, $700
4th: University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Jonah Barrow, Fairmont, Neb., and Connor Slaughter, South Sioux City, Neb., five bass, 22-14, $600
5th: Carson-Newman University – Ben Cully, Rockwall, Texas, and Hayden Gaddis, Seymour, Tenn., five bass, 22-4, $500
6th: University of Iowa – John Hatfield, West Branch, Iowa, and Chase Loftus, Solan, Iowa, five bass, 21-13
7th: Auburn University – Sam Hanggi, Knoxville, Tenn., and Sam Hoesley, Hoover, Ala., five bass, 21-9
8th: Kentucky Christian University – Ben Brockwell, Crossett, Ark., and Justice Gayhart, Nicholasville, Ky., five bass, 21-0
9th: University of North Alabama – Kolby Clark and Kaden Liles, both of Florence, Ala., five bass, 19-14
10th: Campbellsville University – Evan Fields, Shelbyville, Ky., and Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., five bass, 19-3
Complete results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Harris Chain of Lakes was hosted by Visit Lake County, Florida. The next event for College Fishing anglers will be the Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Lake Havasu Presented by Tackle Warehouse, Feb. 4 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
The 2023 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI features college teams from across the country competing in nine regular-season tournaments. The top 12-percent of teams from each regular-season tournament advance to the 2024 Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Grundens, Lawless Lures, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.