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First All-Female Bass Fishing Team Qualifies for YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship at Lake Hartwell

Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media
Published March 22, 2017

HARTWELL, Ga. (March 21, 2017) - History was made this past weekend at the YETI FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament on Lake Hartwell as the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) bass-fishing team of Jaci Skipper of Taylor, Alabama, and Ryleigh Tyson of Savannah, Georgia, became the first all-female team to ever qualify for the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship. 

The SCAD duo of Skipper and Tyson, both freshmen fishing in their first FLW event together as a team, caught a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 8 ounces, to finish the event in 14thplace. With a field of 176 teams competing on Lake Hartwell, the top 17 teams advanced to the National Championship.

"I grew up in the boat with my dad, and he taught me how humbling this sport can be," said Skipper, a freshman majoring in graphic design. "I fished the first two events at Lake Seminole and Lake Guntersville this season with different partners and I zeroed both times. I told Ryleigh that our time was coming. It just so happened that this tournament went well for us.

"My goal every event is to give 110-percent effort and try to catch a five-bass limit," Skipper continued. "I fished in high school for Rehobeth High School in Dothan, Alabama, and I know how tough some of these fisheries are and how tough the competition is. The most important thing to me is to always give our best effort."

The Bryan College duo of D.J. Barber of Gardendale, Alabama, and Matt Brown of Corbin, Kentucky, won the event with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 14 ounces. The victory earned the Bryan College bass club a $2,000 club scholarship and also advanced the team to the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship. 

"We ran about 25 to 30 minutes up the Seneca River to a pocket with dirty water," said Barber, a sophomore majoring in business management. "We had found the area in practice and caught a couple of fish, so we decided to start the tournament there. After we pulled up, before I could even stand up and grab my rod Matt caught a 6-pounder on his first cast."

"For the next 40 minutes we caught them on every cast," said Brown, a freshman majoring in business marketing. "We were throwing a red squarebill crankbait - I can't share the name of it, though. It is an old Tennessee secret and I have some old friends that would kill me if I shared it.

"We caught around 20 fish there, and then it turned off," Brown continued. "We spent the rest of the day spot fishing and trying to upgrade, but we never caught anything bigger. We had our full weight by 9:15 (a.m.)."

"I think that the color red was also key," Barber said. "I threw a different colored squarebill in practice on that spot and I didn't get bit. But, when Matt tied that red one on, it was literally the first cast."

The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2018 College Fishing National Championship are:

  1st: Bryan College - D.J. Barber, Gardendale, Ala., and Matt Brown, Corbin, Ky., five bass, 18-14, $2,000 Club Scholarship

  2nd: Clemson University - Robert White, Greenville, S.C., and Derek Freeman, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 16-8, $1,400 Club Scholarship

  3rd: Kennesaw State University - Cody Smith, Gainesville, Ga., and Spencer Guthrie, Acworth, Ga., five bass, 16-0, $700 Club Scholarship

  4th: Bethel University - Alec Piekarski, Greenfield, Wis., and Kyler Chelminiak, Franklin, Wis., five bass, 15-12, $500 Club Scholarship

  5th: University of Georgia - Justin Sisavath, Duluth, Ga., and Jordan Parisian, Dallas, Texas, five bass, 15-4, $500 Club Scholarship

  6th: Western Carolina University - Jason Ashe, Cullowhee, N.C., and Alex Walsh, Robbinsville, N.C., five bass, 14-10

  7th: Lander University - Kevin Latham, Greenwood, S.C., and David Branham, Donalds, S.C., five bass, 14-9

  8th: University of North Georgia - Ty Johnston, Jefferson, Ga., and Tristan Thomas, Lula, Ga., five bass, 14-9

  9th: University of Tennessee - Bradley Devaney, Oliver Springs, Tenn., and Saxton Long, Pulaski, Tenn., five bass, 14-5

  10th: Jacksonville State University - Brandon Padilla, Roswell, Ga., and Chase Chastain, Anniston, Ala., five bass, 14-0

FLW also advances one additional team to the National Championship for every 10 teams over 100 that compete. A total of 176 teams participated in this event, so also advancing to the 2018 College Fishing National Championship are:

  11th: University of North Alabama - Austin Mize, Sheffield, Ala., and Parker Davis, Morris, Ala., five bass, 13-11

  12th: University of Georgia - Collin Chandler, Donalsonville, Ga., and Garrett Stone, Atlanta, Ga., five bass, 12-13

  13th: Georgia State University - Hayden Hillyer, Atlanta, Ga., and Christian Cook, Roswell, Ga., five bass, 12-11

  14th: Savannah College of Art & Design - Jaci Skipper, Taylor, Ala., and Ryleigh Tyson, Savannah, Ga., five bass, 12-8       

  15th: Haywood Community College - Justin St. Onge and Ryan McLaughlin, both of Fairview, N.C., five bass, 12-4            

  16th: Clemson University - Garrett Addis, Central, S.C., and Aaron Banquer-Glenn, Clemson, S.C., five bass, 12-1

  17th: Bryan College - Nathan Bell, Riceville, Tenn., and Cole Sands, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 12-0

Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.

This YETI FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference at Lake Hartwell was the third and final regular-season qualifying tournament for Southeastern Conference anglers in 2017. The next YETI FLW College Fishing event is a Central Conference tournament scheduled for April 1 on the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri.

YETI FLW College Fishing teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences - Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top ten teams from each division's three regular-season tournaments, along with an additional qualifier for every 10 teams over 100 that compete, along with the top 20 teams from the annual YETI FLW College Fishing Open will advance to the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a college fishing club that is recognized by their school.

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter atTwitter.com/FLWFishing. Visit FLWFishing.com to sign up or to start a club at your school.