COLUMBIA, S.C. (April 15, 2012) –The National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray is a team event. Twenty-five teams from across the country competed in 20 qualifying events and five conference championship tournaments, and the top five teams from each conference competed for the title of national champion in this prestigious three-day nationally televised event. Teams go through the grueling season in the hopes of sharing the spotlight and title of national champion with their teammate. However, the Kansas State University team of Ryan Patterson of Goddard, Kan., wasn’t much of a team. Patterson’s teammate and brother transferred from Kansas State, so Patterson fished the championship event alone. And he didn’t even weigh a five-bass limit of fish every day. And he did the unthinkable by claiming the title of national champion. On Sunday Patterson weighed five bass for 18 pounds, 1 ounce for a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 46-15 to claim the national championship title. Patterson took the title by 2 pounds, 4 ounces. For his efforts, Patterson received $50,000 cash, a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower engine for his school’s bass club and $25,000 for Kansas State University. “I don’t even know what to say,” said Patterson, a junior advertising major. “The whole time I was pretty nervous. When I got up here I knew it was going to be close. “I’ll be real honest with you,” Patterson added. “I’m a very confident fisherman. I’m very confident in my abilities. I didn’t expect to catch 20 pounds every day, but I knew I was going to catch my five, and if I got some breaks here and there I was going to do well.” Patterson said his equipment was “crucial” to his victory. He used G Loomis swimbait rods in a 7-foot, 1-inch version and a 7-foot, 3-inch version, Shimano Chronarch reels, 14-pound-test Sunline Fluorocarbon, YUM Money Minnows with a Lazer Trokar hook and Zoom Flukes with a Lazer Trokar hook. “With three minutes to go I broke off a 5-pounder,” said an emotional Patterson. “My rod snapped when I set the hook. I sat there and said, ‘Well my rod just snapped and I just lost $100,000.’” Now Patterson gets to go up against the best professional anglers on the planet in the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held Aug. 9-12 on Lake Lanier in Duluth, Ga., and will offer anglers the opportunity to compete for a top award of $500,000. “I told everyone when I came here that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Patterson said. “And the guys that do this for a living … you don’t realize how good those guys are and how hard it is to make it where they’re at. And for me to have an opportunity like this … it’s an amazing experience. I’m definitely excited. I’ll take the Cinderella ride all the way to the Forrest Wood Cup. Anything can happen.” Rounding out the top five teams are: 2nd: Clemson University – Andy Wicker, Pomaria, S.C., and Harold Turner, Sumter, S.C. (15 bass, 44-11, $10,000) 3rd: Kennesaw State University – Thomas Frink, Woodstock, Ga., and Justin Marlow, Kennesaw, Ga. (14 bass, 43-7, $5,000) 4th: Auburn University – Jordan Lee, Vinemont, Ala., and Matt Lee, Auburn, Ala. (15 bass, 43-3, $5,000) 5th: Virginia Tech – Wyatt Blevins, Pulaski, Va., and Carson Rejzer, Hampton, Va. (15 bass, 39-9, $5,000).
Photo by Gary Mortenson