DAYTON — The University of Tennessee Chattanooga and its Mocs bass team came from 11th place with an impressive final day catch to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Regional.
Lance Geren and Robbie Moore combined for a two-day total of 31 pounds, 2 ounces to score the come-from-behind event.
“This is so amazing that it really hasn’t even sunk in yet,” said Geren, a Bradley Central High School graduate. “We don’t really know when it will.”
Geren, 24, is an engineering major at the University of Tennessee system school. Moore, 20, majors in business. Both students plan to graduate in the coming year.
Two students from the main UT campus in Knoxville came in second place after leading the tournament after Day One.
Tyler Wadzinski and Matt Beeler were knocked out of the lead after posting a final catch of 14-4. The team posted a two-day weight of 30-9.
“We’ll take it,” said Wadzinski. “It’s good to be here and those guys just out-fished us.”
Geren and Moore fished a classic summertime ledge pattern with a twist.
“We decided to fish a bit shallower than everyone else,” said Geren. “It made sense to us because no one was really hammering the fish way out deep.”
The team positioned their boat in 20 feet of water, making casts to bass positioned in 10 feet or shallower. The bass held on secondary drops between the shoreline and the deeper water.
A heavy jig did the trick for both days. The team fished a locally made Jenko Jigs 3/4-ounce football head shape in all Summer Candy color. A color-matching Strike King trailer was impaled on the jig for added strike appeal.
Staying near the launch site was another key.
“It’s pure coincidence that our spots were near the launch,” added Geren. “But it did allow us to keep fishing longer.”
Fishing longer paid off in more ways than one. Moore caught the team’s biggest bass weighing 5-11 going into the final hour of fishing.
Wadzinski and Beeler were confident going into the final round, although their areas failed to produce enough quality bites to sustain the lead.
“We couldn’t get that one kicker fish,” lamented Wadzinski.
Austin Neary and Zach Hicks represented Western Carolina University for a third-place finish. The team’s high hopes of a win were dashed on Day One after a fish estimated at 10 pounds broke free at the boat.
Geren and Moore took home more than the winner’s trophy. They also took home the Livingston Lures Leader award, worth $500 in Livingston products.
Ed Rude and Matt Gibson of West Virginia earned the Bass Pro Nitro Big Bag award of $500 for catching the 19-11 heavyweight sack of the tournament. William Shipes of Clemson University won the Carhartt Big Bass award for catching a largemouth weighing 6-2.
The top 12 teams from the Eastern Regional are invited to the Carhartt College Championship, July 31-August 2. The tournament is at Chatuge Reservoir in northern Georgia.
The Eastern Regional tournament was held in conjunction with BASSfest, a unique elminination-style tournament featuring pros from the Bassmaster Elite Series and top pros from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate.