Texas A&M’s bass fishing team finished No. 1 out of 83 bass teams from 48 colleges that gathered in Lewisville, Texas, for the Boat U.S. National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship this past week. The A&M bass fishing team consists of senior Justin Rackley and graduate student Trevor Knight.
“It’s really great to bring this back home to College Station where it belongs,” Knight said. “To be able to beat 82 other teams in this event and come out on top is really awesome.”
The team received a trophy in the shape of a leaping bass and a $14,000 scholarship for the school’s fishing club.
All 83 teams competed in a preliminary round during the first two days of the tournament. The top five teams qualified for the finals based on the highest total weights of the fish caught during the first two days. The weights were reset to zero in the final round, so every team started on the same level.
Rackley and Knight advanced to the finals with a cumulative two-day weight of 20.22 pounds and clinched a top-five finish. They finished day three with 7.60 pounds on four fish, beating the 6.72 pound total of Western Kentucky.
“(The final day) was actually the toughest day,” Knight said. “The bite got really tough because of all the pressure that was going on. A lot of people were fishing our area the first two days.”
Knight said the key to the victory was catching their limit on the first day in one area then moving to a different location, leaving the remaining fish in that area of the lake for the final round.
“It’s a little bit of luck, but it’s mostly strategy,” Rackley said. “Like Trevor said, we knew those fish were there and we saved some for the last day and that’s especially important in a three day tournament.”
The other top five teams were the University of Alabama, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Louisiana Tech. The Western Kentucky team won an $8,000 scholarship, Alabama won a $5,000 scholarship, Wisconsin – Madison won a $3,000 scholarship and Louisiana Tech won a $2,000 scholarship.
Fox College Sports was present to record the tournament for a television series scheduled to begin in January 2008. ESPN will hold another national championship this month called the Under Armour College Bass National Championship. A team from A&M will also be competing in that tournament.
“It’s really hard to say that one (tournament) is better than the other,” Knight said. “The ESPN one has been going on for three years, and this is the second year for the FCS edition. I competed in the ESPN one last year, and I’ll be doing that one again this year.”
Just like in any college sport, Rackley said school pride is a driving factor for the A&M team.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” Rackley said.
“Number one in Texas and number in the Big 12, it’s great,” Knight said.