BRANSON, Mo. – The Drury University duo of Clay Henderson of Purdy, Missouri, and Zachery Ward of Cabot, Arkansas, won the MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event Table Rock Lake Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces. The victory earned the Panthers’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2023 MLF College Fishing National Championship.
“We made a bit of a long run because I felt the majority of the field was going to fish from the dam to the Kimberling City area,” said Henderson, a Drury freshman. “I grew up on Table Rock, so I ran up past Kimberling City and went to an area I was familiar with.”
Henderson said the morning action was slower than he expected, and the team had only two keepers at 1 p.m., so he changed areas to try to fill their limit. The anglers relocated to a spot Henderson had caught fish on a couple of weeks prior to the tournament. The duo used a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope System to locate a school of fish feeding on shad and filled out their limit in 30 minutes.
Henderson said the morning bite was triggered by a 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait in Rainbow Shad and Sexy Shad colors and a 2.8-inch Rainbow Shad-colored Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait. The team’s afternoon baits of choice were a 4-inch Sexy Shad-colored Storm Largo Shad as well as the 2.8-inch Keitech swimbait. Henderson said the team caught 25 short fish and eight keepers during the course of the day.
“If we weren’t looking at the fish on the LiveScope we were targeting pea gravel flats in anywhere from 15 to 20 feet of water,” Henderson said. “We were just scrubbing the bottom. Then when we threw it through schools of fish, it just depended on how deep the bait was; the fish were directly under them. It varied from 5 to 15 feet deep.
“Growing up on Table Rock, I’ve seen how tough that lake can be in post-front conditions,” Henderson added. “To catch 20 pounds on a lake I know and love feels great – especially to do it my freshman year. This feels great.”
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2023 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: Drury University – Clay Henderson, Purdy, Mo., and Zachery Ward, Cabot, Ark., five bass, 20-4, $2,000
2nd: McKendree University – Devon Rathbun, Springfield, Mo., and Lane Stephens, Grove, Okla., five bass, 18-6, $1,000
3rd: University of Missouri – Evan Japlon, Columbia, Mo., and Brian Walkup, Eureka, Mo., five bass, 18-4, $500
4th: University of Missouri – Cale McCandless, Wentzville, Mo., and Nick Trusso, Columbia, Mo., five bass, 16-15, $500
5th: Campbellsville University – Dustin Bauer, Louisville, Ky., and Wyatt Pearman, Hodgenville, Ky., five bass, 15-12, $500
6th: University of Nebraska – Cade Ludwig, Lincoln, Neb., and Hunter Suchsland, Kearney, Neb., five bass, 15-7
7th: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Nate Boenning, Waukesha, Wis., and Reed Kochan, Middleton, Wis., five bass, 15-5
8th: Missouri State University – Blair Cox, Branson, Mo., and Ryder Parkhill, Ozark, Mo., five bass, 15-3
9th: Drury University – Stanislav Sedletskii, Springfield, Mo., and Brycen Soliday, Noble, Okla., five bass, 14-14
10th: Campbellsville University – Cade Hayford, Blissfield, Mich., and Wil Rigdon, Campbellsville, Ky., five bass, 14-8
MLF also advances one additional team to the National Championship for every 10 teams over 100 that compete. A total of 149 teams participated in this event, so also advancing to the 2023 College Fishing National Championship in 11th through 14th place are:
11th: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Brock Lederman, Deforest, Wis., and Kyle Schwibinger, Plymouth, Wis., five bass, 14-0
12th: University of Missouri – Payton Sapp, Osage Beach, Mo., and Max Valkner, Columbia, Mo., five bass, 13-13
13th: Arkansas Tech University – Cole Lamb, Melbourne, Ark., and Tristan Weaver, Sage, Ark., five bass, 13-13
14th: Arkansas Tech University – John Foster Case, Clarksville, Ark., and Mat Higby, Lamar, Ark., five bass, 13-7
Complete results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Table Rock Lake was hosted by Explore Branson. It was the first of three regular-season tournaments for Central Conference anglers. The next event for College Fishing anglers will be the Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI event on Smith Mountain Lake, April 29, in Huddleston, Virginia.
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.