The Tigers qualified for the tournament with their finish in the season opener of the College B.A.S.S. circuit, the College B.A.S.S. East Super Regional on the Alabama River in Montgomery May 20-21.
“We sent five teams over there,” said Jann Swaim, club adviser. “We had to finish in the top half of the field to be able to go to the National Championship. Four of our boaters finished in the top half of the field, and one of our boaters finished in fourth place. It shows once again Auburn has an incredible team, and we’ll be ready to compete in the National Championship in July.”
Auburn angler team member Adam Murphree, senior in agricultural communicatons, and Chris Seals, senior in civil engineering, placed fourth with a weight of 21 pounds, eight ounces.
Murphree said the conditions of extreme heat and low waves were less than optimal for catching fish and made it difficult mentally and physically to stay on the water all day.
The spot is always a tough place to fish, Seals said.
He said he was prepared for fishing conditions to change day to day.
“It was a possibility we could have caught a lot of fish or caught none at all,” Seals said. “I was prepared for the worst. We did decent overall, so I’m happy with that.”
He said he wanted to win, but was proud of the team’s results.
Angler Matt Lee, senior and newly elected president of the club, and his teammate and brother, Jordan Lee, sophomore in zoology, placed seventh with a weight of 19 pounds, seven ounces.
Jordan said he is glad he had the chance to fish with his brother whom he usually has to compete against.
“During the conference, we usually don’t get to fish together since we’re both boaters,” Jordan said.
Forty-eight teams and 22 different schools competed in regionals.
“It was a great turnout, and it’s a great step towards our Championship that will held in July,” said Hank Weldon, tournament director.
Ole Miss placed first with a weight of 28 pounds, five ounces.
College B.A.S.S. awarded scholarships to clubs at the tournament.
“We award money to the clubs to help better each club in their endeavors because they’re club sports,” Weldon said. “They have to fund their own way.”
The organization aims to benefit the collegiate bass clubs as much as possible, he said.
“You could have been in Australia watching Auburn University come across the stage,” Weldon said. “We’re trying to get these teams and schools out on the map as much as we can.”
The Super East Regional tournament will be broadcast on ESPN in August.
Weldon said he and those associated with College B.A.S.S. consider it the premier college fishing organization.
“We’re affiliated with Bass Anglers Sportsman Society,” he said. “That right there puts us on a very high pedestal. We have some big shoes to fill. With that said, we will be crowning a national champion, and we’ll be putting one college angler into the Bass Master Class, which is the most prestigious fishing tournament in the world.”
Jordan said the Bass Master Classic is comparable to the Super Bowl or World Series of a sport, and the first place angler will win $500,000.
Auburn anglers also competed on the college circuit of FLW Outdoors, the largest fishing tournament organization in the world.
Angler team members Jordan and Shaye Baker placed third in the FLW Outdoors College National Championship April 7-9.
They competed on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley near Paducah, Ky., and earned $10,000 which went to Auburn University’s general scholarship fund and the AU Bass Sports Club,
The club recently received recognition from the Auburn University Foundation.
Matt said the team wants to grow.
“It is such a growing sport,” he said. “Four years ago, Alabama was one of the first schools to have it, and then Auburn came along.”
“I don’t know how many schools in Alabama alone have fishing teams, and it’s growing so fast.”
A lot of people in Auburn who fish do not know about AU bass sports club, Matt said.
“We’re looking to expand and compete,” he said. “People travel a long way to come fish in tournaments like these.”
Matt, who attended Birmingham Southern three years prior to coming to Auburn this year, said joining the club is a good way to make friends.
“I’m best friends with all of these guys, and this is my first year at Auburn,” he said.
He encourages students interested in fishing to come to a club meeting.
“Maybe you will meet people you didn’t know before and find something that you love,” he said.
The club will compete in the Boat U.S. Championship in Lewisville, Texas, May 21-29 next.