2023 was a memorable year for college fishing. As the year draws to a close, the Association of Collegiate Angers takes a look back at some of the heaviest bags of fish to cross the scales along with some of the prize-winning big bass.
The first event of the season for the Association of Collegiate Anglers was the Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing at Pickwick Lake in Florence, AL. Charlie Wright and Logan Plueger from the number one ranked University of Montevallo weighed in a five-bass limit for 21.74 pounds on Day 1 to take the early lead. They then improved on their Day 1 limit by dropping 22.09 pounds of Pickwick Lake Bass on the scales during the final day of tournament competition. That 22-plus-pound bag was anchored by the Overall Big Bass for the event that weighed 7.38 pounds.
Wright & Plueger’s Day 2 limit of 22.09 pounds was the largest five bass limit weighed in during competition on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series in 2023. Plueger’s 7.38 pound Big Bass was also the single largest fish brought to the scales this past year at an ACA event.
In 2023, the ACA hosted its first-ever event at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, SC. The final event of the 2022-23 season, the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops saw close to 200 teams compete for a National Championship title on the famed blueback herring fishery.
Tucker Smith and Hayden Marbut from then second-ranked Auburn University staked claim to the Day 1 lead with a mixed bag of Lake Hartwell Bass weighing 21.06 pounds. This sensational Day 1 limit helped to propel the duo to the National Championship victory, as they finished the event in first place with a two-day total weight of 35.24 pounds.
The next stop of the season was the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. In 2023, this tournament fielded close to 600 anglers, the largest in its history. Over two days, the elite, record-breaking field brought in hundreds of Kentucky Lake bass. A total of 15 bass over five pounds were brought to the scales.
Harlan Thomas from Top 10 ranked Murray State University won the event with a largemouth bass weighing 6.31 pounds. By winning top honors, Harlan earned a Power-Pole gift certificate, a 6” Bob’s Machine Shop jack plate, a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card, two Abu Garcia Veritas PLX casting rods, and a pair of Bajio Sunglasses. The Overall Big Bass paid out a total of just over $5,140 in prizes. The Murray State angler also claimed the ACA logo contingency, Garmin Tournament Rewards, and a Yamaha Contingency Bonus. All total for the weekend, including the victory during Day 1 Session 4 presented by Garmin and a 2nd place finish for Day 1 Session 3 presented by Bass Pro Shops, Harlan won a combined total of over $9,000 in prizes and contingencies.
At each ACA event, the Overall Big Bass for that given tournament is awarded with a Power-Pole. With two of the Big Bass winners being highlighted earlier, we take a look at the other two winners from 2023. At the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Hartwell, Adam Green from Greenville University took Big Bass honors with 6.61 pounds. Hunter Jenkins from Top 25 ranked Dallas Baptist University won a new Power-Pole at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open with 5.78 pounds.
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