(Feb 13, 2017 - LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ.)
University of Oregon angler Ryan Habenicht of Creswell, Oregon, won the YETI FLW College Fishing Western Conference opener on Lake Havasu Saturday with four bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, despite fishing the team event solo as his partner was unable to compete. The victory earned the University of Oregon bass club a $2,000 club scholarship and Habenicht will now advance to compete solo at the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
FLW College Fishing rules states that each competing team will consist of two contestants, however in the event of a medical or family emergency on a tournament day, a contestant may be permitted to fish alone with approval from the tournament director. Habenicht’s partner had an emergency, forcing the University of Oregon angler to compete alone.
“It was a pretty tough bite Saturday at Lake Havasu,” said Habenicht, a senior majoring in business. “During practice it was 80 degrees and sunny and the fish were cruising. Nearly every bass that we caught was over 3 pounds. During the tournament it ended up being cloudy and I had to fish extremely slow and methodically. I literally turned the graph off and would make 35- to 40-yard casts and then not move the bait.”
Habenicht said that he found some dirtier water and fished tule points in two separate coves with a ½-ounce unnamed chartreuse and shad-colored spinnerbait. He caught one keeper then moved to some secondary points and managed to catch three more on a “Ned rig”.
“For the Ned rig I used a 3/16-ounce Frenzy Baits Nail with a green-pumpkin Z-Man Finesse WormZ,” Habenicht said.
“The key for me was making the long casts and not moving the bait,” Habenicht went on to say. “You had to fish super slow and really just let the bait sit there and grind it out.”
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2018 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: University of Oregon – Ryan Habenicht, Creswell, Oregon, four bass, 13-3, $2,000 Club Scholarship
2nd: California State University-Chico – Carson Leber, Dixon, Calif., and Travis Bounds, Chico, Calif., four bass, 10-2, $1,400 Club Scholarship
3rd: California State University-Chico – Cole Lauchland, Lodi, Calif., and Logan Schwab, Davis, Calif., four bass, 9-12, $700 Club Scholarship
4th: California State University-Chico – Chad Sweitzer, Chico, Calif., and Tyler Firebaugh, Danville, Calif., three bass, 9-12, $500 Club Scholarship
5th: California State University-Long Beach – Roman Hipolito, Midway City, Calif., and Seth Meyer, Lancaster, Calif., four bass, 8-9, $500 Club Scholarship
6th: Northern Arizona University – Gunnar Stanton, Boulder City, Nev., and Connor Moore, Flagstaff, Ariz., three bass, 7-8
7th: Grand Canyon University – Cody Blood, Galt, Calif., and Joseph Dwyer, Scottsdale, Ariz., two bass, 6-9
8th: California State University-Chico – Chas Brannon, Santa Maria, Calif., and Michael Woods, Olivehurst, Calif., three bass, 6-0
9th: California State University-Long Beach – Cole Thomas, Lakewood, Calif., and Via Thao, Long Beach, Calif., two bass, 4-9
10th: Northern Arizona University – Jake Hartzler and Marcus Green, both of Flagstaff, Ariz., one bass, 4-9
This YETI FLW College Fishing Western Conference opener was the first regular-season qualifying tournament of 2017. The next event for Western Conference anglers is a tournament scheduled for May 13 on the California Delta in Bethel Island, California.
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.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.