The Auburn Bass Fishing club was defeated by Alabama Saturday morning at Logan Martin Lake in Birmingham for the Bassmaster College Classic.
The Iron Bowl of Fishing was a six-hour event.
Close to 400 fans crowded around the Toyota Tundra weigh-in booth to watch the day’s events unfold.
Three two-man teams from each school fished for a cumulative weight.
Alabama weighed in at almost 26 lbs. while Auburn was just over 18 lbs.
Shaye Baker, senior in Spanish international trade and president of Auburn’s Bass Fishing club, said he and his team expected the score to be much closer.
The competition began at 6:30 a.m., as the boats were prepared and taken to the lake.
Both teams spent about three hours on the water fishing.
Baker said Alabama’s victory came when their anglers discovered a small area concentrated with fish and stayed there for most of the day.
“I technically could have pulled up and fished there too, but besides the rules, there is also integrity,” Baker said. “I left them alone because doing something like that is frowned upon and just not right.” The three boats belonging to Alabama remained stationary as the Auburn team searched the banks for bigger bass.
Teams are allowed to catch as many fish as possible but can only keep the five biggest ones from the day.
Those five fish are then weighed in for the final score, Baker said.
The Auburn anglers who competed scored the highest weights in several qualifying tournaments last fall. The team hosts four qualifying events every few months. The results determine who will be on the traveling team the following semester. “I did all that I could do with my knowledge of that lake,” said Jordan Lee, freshman in fisheries.
Lee said it was his first time to Logan Martin Lake, which can be a disadvantage. The fisherman felt added pressure because of the obvious rivalry, as well as the large crowd which was somewhat unexpected, Lee said. The competitions usually involve anywhere up to 150 teams. This time, Baker said, it was win or lose against Alabama; there was no second place. Lee said he and his partner, Shane Powell, reached the goals they set for the competition. Powell, sophomore in wildlife biology, said the highlight of his day was representing Auburn through fishing.
Powell caught three of the five biggest fish for his boat.
“It was an exciting new experience to be on stage with all those people,” Powell said. “We knew they were good fisherman.”
Baker said bass fishing involves much more skill and technique than people realize.
Seasonal patterns warm the water, causing fish to move to different parts of the lake, in- creasing the chance of being caught.
“Whether water is muddy or clear also influences the sport,” Baker said. “Everything about the lake plays into where the fish could be.”
Baker, Lee and Powell said they wanted to win in this particular competition more than usual because they were facing archrival Alabama.
“(The fish) just didn’t bite for us that day,” Baker said. “We’ll get them next time.”