Written By: Conner Wise
On August 12, Griffin Fernandes, senior, and Hayden Scott, junior, headed to the St. Lawrence River in Waddington, New York to take on the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. Here, the top-ranked collegiate bass fishers from across the country come together and compete to see who can pull in the most and heaviest bass.
After a long three-day effort, Fernandes and Scott pulled in an astonishing 63 pounds and 10 ounces of bass, declaring them the first-place winners for the Bassmaster Collegiate Series. This tournament was Adrian College’s first national championship in the bass fishing program and they now sit in first place in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year rankings.
To win a bass fishing competition this prestigious, a lot of preparation is needed before the reeling even begins. To brace for the competition, the Bulldogs are looking at map charts, nautical charts, depth changes and even temperature differences to make sure they are anchored at the right spot to collect the biggest fish. When thinking about the long-distance travel these competitions require, the preparation becomes an essential aspect of the sport.
Scott says, “Most of the places we go to are 9, 12, and even 15 hours away so we don’t get to live close by and fish whenever we can. The preparation is a huge aspect that a lot of people don’t understand at first glance.”
Scott and Fernandes have both been fishing competitively since the age of 13, and those long years of work and effort are finally paying off winning this championship. The prizes for this tournament paid off immensely as a $5,000 check was written to go back into the Adrian College Bass Fishing program. They also got a contingency program with the sunglasses company, Costa Del Mar. Scott and Fernandes signed up for this program for this exact tournament and based on how you finish, declares what kind of prizes you win. In this case, with being the highest placer, Scott and Fernandes got another $2,500 check with featured apparel.
One of the biggest factors that helped Scott and Fernandes pull this victory off was the support that they got from not only their teammates, but other bass fishing programs that were at the competition. On the final day of fishing, only ten teams qualified for the last round leaving the other 115 boats cheering them on.
All the competitors followed Scott and Fernandes around the lake, cheering them on whenever they reeled in a fish. Some teams even followed Scott and Fernandes to make sure their boat did not break down.
Scott says, “We had three boats behind us for an hour and half ride there and back just to make sure our boat wouldn’t break down and if anything did, they would be there to help.”
Not only did the bulldogs get the results that they wanted after this tournament, but the community on the St. Lawrence River that day made it so surreal to them that they will forever be grateful for this experience.
This kind of accomplishment will be a memorable moment in Adrian College sports history. Being ranked 2nd nationwide last year and finally getting an opportunity to take that first-place position opens the door for Adrian College’s Bass Fishing team.
Fernandes says, “This was one of the biggest events in College Bass Fishing and we put an incredible amount of time and effort into this sport. To end with this result for the program overall was an absolute blessing.”
With Scott and Fernandes placing first, this qualifies them to compete in the Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket. This tournament takes the best teams in the Bassmaster Classic and they compete head-to-head. The top four winners will attend the Bassmaster Classic, which is the Superbowl in fishing. This will be a great challenge as they embark on this trip, yet with the knowledge and experience they have, only the sky’s the limit.
Scott and Fernandes want to thank Adrian College, Coach Borton and Coach Taylor for all the support that goes into the Bass Fishing program.
Fernandes says, “There’s not too many programs in the nation like ours that give guys like us the opportunity to succeed.”