Fishing & Boating News

University of Louisiana-Monroe Leads Day One of YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship

by: Joe Opager, Director of Public Relations,

The University of Louisiana-Monroe team of Thomas Soileau and Hunter Freeman, both of Monroe, Louisiana, grabbed the early lead Wednesday after Day One.
Photo by courtesy FLW Outdoors
(May 30, 2018 - SHREVEPORT, La.)

 The University of Louisiana-Monroe team of Thomas Soileau and Hunter Freeman, both of Monroe, Louisiana, grabbed the early lead Wednesday after Day One of the 2018 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Red River presented by Lowrance C-MAP Genesis. The Warhawk duo brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces, giving them a 12-ounce cushion over the second place team of Charlie DeShazer and Jackson Ebbers from the University of Nebraska.

“We locked down to Pool No. 3 to catch our fish today,” said Freeman, a junior majoring in business administration. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We came here three weeks ago to pre-practice and found a few areas that we felt could produce, but it’s much warmer now. The water is 95 degrees and it’s 2½ feet deep, so we backed up a little bit – and we found them.”

“We’re fishing a little deeper, offshore,” said Soileau, a recent criminal justice graduate. “Most of our bites came around 8-feet deep. We hit three or four spots, and caught one big fish off of each one. It happened pretty quickly.”

The duo said they stopped fishing their main areas around 10:30 a.m. and spent the rest of the day practicing and looking for new water. They managed 8 or 9 keepers throughout the day, both fishing the same unnamed crankbait, although different colors.

“With having to manage the locks and everything, it takes almost two hours to get to our spots,” Soileau said. “It really takes up a lot of our fishing time, so every cast counts.”

“One of our spots should be replenishing. With the hot conditions and a little bit of wind it’s setting up perfectly,” Freeman said. “We cut out a little early today and left them biting. Some other teams are fishing around us, but we’re doing something no one else is doing. Our plan is to do the same thing tomorrow and hope they’re still there.”

The four-day event features 168 of the top college bass fishing teams from across the nation competing in the internationally-televised tournament for the top prize of $30,000, including a new Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.

The National Champions will be crowned on Friday based on the cumulative three-day weight total. The winning team will then advance to compete in a one-day fish-off on Saturday against each other on an undisclosed local fishery, which will be revealed at Friday’s weigh-in. The two anglers will weigh in Saturday at 3:25 p.m. prior to the final weigh in of the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American championship at Cross Lake. The winner will receive entry into the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, held August 10-12 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The top 10 teams after Day One on the Red River are:
 1st:  University of Louisiana-Monroe – Thomas Soileau and Hunter Freeman, both of Monroe, La., five bass, 14-7
 2nd:  University of Nebraska – Jackson Ebbers, Cambridge, Neb., and Charlie DeShazer, Fremont, Neb., five bass, 13-11
 3rd:  Kennesaw State University – Payton Morgan, Woodstock, Ga., and Logan Smith, Ball Ground, Ga., five bass, 12-7
 4th:  Tusculum College – Nick Hatfield, Chuckey, Tenn., and Corey Neece, Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 12-1
 5th:  Northwestern State University – Hunter Malmay, Zwolle, La., and Robert Jones, Minden, La., five bass, 11-14
 6th:  California State University-Long Beach – Cole Thomas, Lakewood, Calif., and Via Thao, Long Beach, Calif., five bass, 11-6
 7th:  Clemson University – Garrett Addis, Central, S.C., and Aaron Banquer-Glenn, Bend, Ore., five bass, 10-15
 8th:  Kansas State University – Tyler Nekolny, Coral Springs, Fla., and Hunter Whiteley, Willard, Mo., five bass, 10-12
 9th:  University of North Alabama – Triston Crowder, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and Lake Blasingame, Killen Ala., five bass, 10-10
 10th:  Slippery Rock University – Ryan Kozlowski, Cranberry Township, Pa., and Nathan Quince, Imperial, Pa., five bass, 10-8

Overall there were 503 bass weighing 834 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 149 college teams Wednesday. The catch included 60 five-bass limits.
The FLW College Fishing National Championship anglers will take off each morning from the Red River South Marina, located at 250 Red River South Marina Road, in Bossier City, Louisiana, at 6:30 a.m. CDT. Thursday's weigh-in, May 31, will be held at the Marina, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday's Championship weigh-in, June 1, will be held at the Bass Pro Shops located at 100 Bass Pro Drive in Bossier City, at 3:30 p.m. prior to the Day Two weigh-in of the BFL All-American championship. All takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Television coverage of the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance C-MAP Genesis will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) Aug. 15 from Noon -1 p.m. EDT. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

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 fishing club recognized by their college or university.

For complete details and updated information visit

About FLW
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 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. 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.