University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Scott Ellis Wins the Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements with a 9.64lb Sam Rayburn Bass

The Texas Lunker Challenge presented by Mossy Oak Elements proved to be more than just a big bass event – this was also a battle against the elements. This past Sunday, February 11th, 200+ anglers descended upon Sam Rayburn Reservoir with temperatures in the low 40’s and one goal in mind – find the biggest bass and head to the scales. Scott Ellis of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville bass team did just that and ended up with his first college fishing career win. We sat down with Ellis to get some insight on how his day unfolded.

Tell us in your words what it felt like when you set the hook on your best fish and got it in the boat? 

“The morning started off quick, just above the 147 bridge. Within the first few casts my partner caught a fish. At approximately 7:20am I hooked into the 9.64-pound bass. When the fish hit, my rod doubled over instantly. Setting the hook, I initially wasn’t sure if I’d even hooked a fish. I held for a second with the rod still doubled over and felt the fish digging on the other end – I’ll never forget the sound of my line straining. The fish had buried itself in thick vegetation. Unable to torque it out, I immediately trolled over but kept constant tension on the fish. Just when I got almost directly over the top of where the fish was hung up it pulled free. It was completely covered in grass only a few cranks from the boat. I vividly remember seeing nothing but the size of the mouth and how big around the tail was. It was so covered in grass my partner said, “that’s a nice three pounder!” – he had no clue what was under the clump of grass. I didn’t want to get excited and make a mistake, so I didn’t even tell him how big I thought the fish was. Steadily cranking the bass to the side of the boat I bent down and lipped the giant. I didn’t even have a net in the boat so netting it wasn’t an option. Once I got it in the boat I was almost in shock at the size of the fish. After everything settled down, there were some high-fives and we started guessing the weight. We had a scale the whole time, but I didn’t want to weigh it. I wanted to see the weight for the first time on the official tournament scales. At that point the thought of winning never even crossed our minds.  The only talk was school of the year points and how much of a difference that fish would make for the team.”

What gear did you use in catching your fish?  

“I was using a 7’6″ heavy action rod paired with an Abu Garcia Orra SX. The reel had the same free spool of Sunline Fluorocarbon on it from the 2017 BoatUS National Championship – thanks, Sunline! The fish hit a 3/4-ounce Bill Lewis Knock-N-Trap in the Red Crawfish pattern.”

Give us a recap of how the trip to Sam Rayburn went for you and what it meant to win?

“The trip to Sam Rayburn was amazing. It was a 12-hour drive but worth every second. Winning the event means a lot to me but also to our University of Tennessee Bass Fishing Team. We earned valuable school of the year points and really made up some ground. Personally, winning this event was a huge break for me and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. The $3,000 in Cabela’s gift cards and awesome prizes will no doubt change the game for me.”

What are your plans for the rest of the college fishing season?

“I’m fishing every tournament I can this spring but I’m most excited about the Big Bass Bash. I love the format of the big fish tournaments and the great amount of prizes awarded.”

“I would like to say thank you to all of the sponsors who specifically support The University of Tennessee Bass Fishing Team. Traveling 12 hours and fishing one of the best lakes in the country wouldn’t be possible without the support of these great companies. A special thank you to Baitmate Fish Attractant, SteelShad Lures, Mckee Outdoors, Pure Poison Jigs, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Mudd Butt Baits, Mystery Tackle Box, RyPro Fishing, Bobs Machine Shop, Costa Sunglasses, Berkley Fishing, Ledge Hog Fishing, Tommy Brewster Builders, Rice GMC, and The Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series.”

No doubt that this was one heck of a tournament for Ellis and the entire University of Tennessee-Knoxville Bass Team, and we’re sure that we’ll be seeing them at the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley on Kentucky Lake, March 9-11. Registration is open, and you can register for the event here.

For more information about the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, please visit

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