ADRIAN, Mich.--The nationally-renowned Adrian College bass fishing team concluded its third season of competition earlier this month at the YETI Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Northern Conference Event No. 3 on Lake Erie, where the Bulldogs captured their second straight conference win among three top-10 finishes.
The duo of junior Chase Serafin (Highland, Mich.) and sophomore Cody Batterson (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) won the season finale with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. The victory earned the squad $2,000 and the pair will now advance to compete at the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship, scheduled for May 30-June 2 on the Red River in Shreveport, La.
It was the second straight Northern Conference victory for the Bulldogs as senior Jarrett Martin and sophomore Zach Graham, both of Gallipolis, Ohio, earned a win for the school on Lake Chautauqua in New York back in July.
"It felt great to get the win," said Serafin, who is majoring in business marketing. "We've got a lot of experience on Erie, and we had caught some good fish in practice. But, there was a small-craft advisory on the lake (that day), so we were restricted to fish just in Sandusky Bay.
"We scrambled to look at our maps and we found two marinas that looked promising," Serafin continued. "The first one we pulled into, another team from Adrian College was already in there. So we went to our second one and we started smashing them, right in the mouth of the marina. We drifted into the marina. There were only eight docks, but we caught at least 50 largemouth there."
Serafin says that they caught their first limit on an Ike's Old School-colored Rapala DT6 crankbait, then Serafin switched to a custom jig – homemade by teammate Conner Goff – with a Bugsy Baits USA Sick Craw trailer, while Batterson switched to a Smack Daddy Tube.
"You had to be snapping or cracking the jig and tube," Serafin said. "You'd snap it two or three times and they'd crush it on the fall. I think the key for us was just finding that marina. I think the fish were trying to leave and go to the main lake, but the wind just grouped them up back into the marina. It was an awesome day of fishing."
Also finishing in the top-10 of the third and final Northern Conference event were Martin/Graham in fourth place with 14-12 on five fish and freshmen Zach Manneback (Howell, Mich.), Gunner Wilson (Fenton, Mich.) in seventh at 14-0 in their collegiate debut.
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2018 College Fishing National Championships are:
2nd: University of Michigan-Dearborn – Vincenzo Puleo, Wyandotte, Mich., and Austin Klotz, Westland, Mich., five bass, 16-12, $1,000
3rd: Slippery Rock University – Ryan Kozlowski, Cranberry Township, Pa., and Nathan Quince, Imperial, Pa., five bass, 15-2, $700
4th: Adrian College – Jarrett Martin and Zachary Graham, both of Gallipolis, Ohio, five bass, 14-12, $500
5th: Hocking College – Ross Holbrook, Somerset, Ohio, and Kyle Waller, Thornhill, Ohio, five bass, 14-3, $500
6th: Bowling Green State University – Corey Miller, Perrysburg, Ohio, and Jason Bailey, Port Clinton, Ohio, five bass, 14-1
7th: Adrian College – Zach Manneback, Howell, Mich., and Gunner Wilson, Fenton, Mich., five bass, 14-0
8th: University of Pittsburgh – Michael Dunn and Henry Colberg, both of Pittsburgh, Pa., five bass, 12-13
9th: Ohio State University – Jacob Jesionek, Hudson, Ohio, and Mason Dejarnette, Marysville, Ohio, five bass, 12-9
10th: Ramapo College – Alex Johnson, Milltown, N.J., and Zachary Orsino, Westville, N.J., five bass, 12-0
Junior Ben Barrus (Blissfield, Mich.) and senior Jeff Morton (Troy, Mich.) finished 11th with 11-8 on four fish, but still qualify for the 2018 national championship due to Martin and Graham punching their ticket in a previous event. Morton will be making his third appearance at Nationals.
All told, Adrian entered 15 boats to compete on Lake Erie which is the most ever by one school at a Northern Conference collegiate event. The Bulldogs also have qualified six boats to next year's national championships in Louisiana, setting another benchmark for the program. Adrian had five boats qualify for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship on Alabama's Wheeler Lake in June.
"Jarrett and Zach rounded out an unbelievable string of tournaments starting back in May with three wins, two second-place showings, a fourth, and two more top-10 finishes," commented Seth Borton, the only coach the AC bass fishing team has ever known. "Lake Erie culminates a great spring and summer it has been--four wins, five additional top fives, and eight other top tens since May alone.
"We can't say thanks enough to all those that helped us execute this event at Lake Erie. From those that allowed us to borrow boats, to "Big Rick" for cooking two unbelievable meals for 30 guys and helping me pack down camp. We truly couldn't have done it without you.
Also want to say a huge thanks to Rob Enders with Schaffer's Oil and Brian Bugsy's from Bugsy's Baits USA for coming over to support us," Borton stated.
In other team news, Adrian ends its season fifth in the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA)/Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing national rankings presented by Abu Garcia. It has 365 points in the latest rankings and is the highest-rated program that sponsors NCAA Division III sports.
The Bulldogs also shined at the state level by sweeping the school and student-athlete of the year awards from the Michigan College Bass Circuit. Adrian outdistanced Division I Central Michigan University, 872 points to 814, to capture the team cup. Individually, Graham and Martin also beat out a pair of Chippewas for winning MCBC Student-Athlete of the Year, 231 to 222, with each competing in three tournaments.
ACBASSTEAM #AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #BulldogProud
(Editor's note: Fishing League Worldwide news services contributed to this report.)