Gilbertsville, Ky.--Chase Serafin talked about being "dialed in" on Kentucky Lake, and it's safe to say he and Adrian College teammate Cody Batterson proved they had massive Tennessee River reservoir Kentucky Lake figured out by posting a two-day total of 50 pounds, 3 ounces to win the YETI Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Open held last weekend.
As Serafin explains, the week's changing weather impacted fish positioning, and his team's ability to interpret the changes and then make the proper adjustments accounted for its victory. Specifically, a cold front that ushered in high winds and dropped the temperature by about 10 degrees pushed fish back along their spawning migrations.
"The last day of practice and early in the first day of the tournament we could catch those fish in front of the bushes," Serafin says. "But by late yesterday and all of today, those fish had made their way out of the creeks and onto the points."
Serafin and Batterson topped day one with 24-15 and followed up with 25-4 today – also the biggest bag of the tournament. They headed out this morning just 1 pound, 3 ounces ahead of fellow Adrian College anglers Jack Hippe III and Nicholas Czajka, but today's performance pushed the champs over the finish line by a margin of 7-6 ahead of runners-up Jacob Sanders and Chad Poulsen of East Texas Baptist University. Hippe and Czajka slipped to fourth.
"That was the first time we had 25 pounds in a college tournament, or any big tournament, and we did it back-to-back days," Serafin says. "I think the key is you can't be too spot specific. We had probably 15 different spots, and there were a couple of specific spots that ended up playing every day.
"We really had to pay attention to what the fish were doing every day to get locked into a pattern, instead of just having spots to go to."
The winners caught their fish on a Rapala DT10 crankbait, Terminator spinnerbait with large willow-leaf blades, and an umbrella rig with three 1/8-ounce swimbait heads. Their swimbait choices were Keitech 3.8 Swing Impact FAT Swimbaits in bluegill flash on the outside and a 4.3 Swing Impact FAT swimbait in ayu in the center "target" position.
Batterson says a key adjustment helped bolster their performance.
"Today, we were on one of our better spots where we caught two good fish yesterday, and we weren't catching anything," he says. "I told Chase, 'Why don't we go check this other spot just up the way.' We only caught two 3-pounders that we ended up culling out of the spot yesterday, but we rolled up on it and right away we caught one good smallmouth, and then we moved into the cove. On our way out of the cove, we ended up catching our biggest fish of the day.
"It was about rotating through your spots. Once we figured out what spots were active during a day, we would hit them through a rotation, like every hour or so, and we'd end up catching one more big one."
Another good decision came late in the day today, when Serafin and Batterson made a final stop on the break wall outside of Kentucky Dam Marina – the tournament takeoff site – in the waning minutes. Fishing the umbrella rig in the deeper water off the riprap produced a 5 1/2-pounder that slammed the door shut on the win.
For their victory, Serafin and Batterson won a Ranger Z175 with an Evinrude outboard. The top 21 teams in the College Open also qualified for the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship.
Adrian College bass fishing coach Seth Borton quotes:
"The 216 boat field was heavily laced with local talent and the best teams and anglers in college fishing. As a competitor you want to face the best and see where you stack up. In our fourth trip to Kentucky Lake as a team we not only found a way to compete, we found a way to dominate! Winning any event by 8lbs is not typical, expected, or realistically repeatable, but it's truly gratifying for all of us when it happens.
"This year will be my first group of graduating seniors and to look at everything they have been able to accomplish in these past four years is pretty impressive. They have been with me through all the foundational ups and downs and have been instrumental in establishing us as one of the nations best.
"This is our team's third consecutive FLW collegiate win in a row and I think it speaks volumes about the direction, dedication, and overall trajectory of our team and program. Every event we seem to raise the bar and every event we conquer a new set of firsts. This event we became the first "Northern Conference" team to win the collegiate open as well as setting a new tournament record for total winning weight at this event.
"We have been truly blessed beyond what we deserve and as always we have so many great partners to thank for their support."
--David A. Brown, Special to AdrianBulldogs.com and courtesy of Fishing League Worldwide