UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

History repeating

Florida Gators Jake Gipson (left) and Matthew Wercinski show off their first-place trophies after winning the 2011 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.

MURRAY, Ky. - Well, they did it again. After winning the 2009 and 2010 FLW College Fishing Southeast Regional Championships as well as the inaugural 2010 FLW College Fishing National Championship, it appeared that there was nothing left to accomplish at the collegiate level for University of Florida teammates Jake Gipson and Matt Wercinski. But not wanting to simply rest on their laurels, Gipson and Wercinski did something that may not ever be duplicated in the history of college fishing - they went out and won back-to-back national championship titles. To be sure, it's an accomplishment for the ages. "This is what your dream about," said Gipson. "And to pull it off, it's just a great feeling. To win the first ever national championship was something very special because nobody can ever take that away from you. But to win it a second time, especially with how little we had going in practice, it's pretty amazing. Some of my friends told me this year that we could do it. But honestly, I didn't think it was possible. I thought that we might be able to get back into the top five. But to win it again, I'm not sure it's even sunk in yet." And quite frankly, in the end, the contest really wasn't close. Although the Gators leapfrogged from fifth place to first during the second day of tournament action on Kentucky Lake, they only clung to a 1-pound, 11-ounce lead. But by the time the final weigh-in had concluded, the University of Florida had won the title by nearly 4 1/2 pounds - an impressive feat to say the least. So what's the secret to their success? "We're best friends, we fish hard and we're a well-oiled machine," said Gipson. "The key is that we work really well together. We both fish from the front of the boat. Matt's left-handed and I'm right-handed so we can stand shoulder to shoulder when we fish. We also rarely fish the same bait. I might tie on a certain type of bait looking for a big bites and Matt might just be targeting keeper fish with another bait entirely. We just work really well together." However, if truth be told, the Gators didn't have a ton of confidence heading into the most important event of the season. "We had a terrible practice and I think we only caught one keeper the whole time," Gipson said. "So on that first day we just decided to go fishing and try to have fun. Luckily for us, on the first day we pulled up to an area and caught three fish right away and that gave us confidence for the rest of the week." According to the Gators, they targeted bass using a two-pronged approach. "We're able to find an area where we could catch fish early in the morning and that freed us up to run around the rest of the day trying to find new water," said Gipson. "We basically spent the morning targeting rip-rap off fairly steep banks where the fish were moving up to feed. I'd throw a Strike King KVD Sexy Shad and Matt would target fish on the outside with a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. Later in the day, we'd target secondary pea gravel points. Matt would usually throw the same bait and I'd switch up to a Strike King 1/2-ounce green pumpkin jig." For their first-place efforts, Gipson and Wercinski received $50,000 cash, a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower engine wrapped in school colors for their school's bass club and $25,000 for the University of Florida - for a total prize package valued at $100,000. However, as an added bonus, the duo received an automatic berth into the Forrest Wood Cup - one of the most prestigious bass-fishing championships in the nation boasting a top prize of $600,000 - which is scheduled to be held Aug. 11-14 on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark. While most college anglers would be in awe of fishing against some of the nation's best pros, Gipson and Wercinski said they are excited to have yet another shot at a Forrest Wood Cup title. "It was really nerve-wracking the first time around," said Gipson. "And I'm definitely going to spend more time using my practice days better to try and figure out a better strategy. Just to be back at the Cup is going to be an awesome experience. But I'd love to do a lot better than last year." Wercinski - who will fish on the co-angler side while Gipson fishes against the pros at the Cup - said he can't wait to get back as well. "Last year I didn't catch a fish so I'm looking for a bit of redemption," he said. In the end, the Gators acknowledged that this week has been a dream come true in almost every way imaginable. "This is about as exciting as it gets," said Wercinski. "How could you not be excited to be standing up here as champions?" Gipson agreed. "We put in a lot of hard work and a lot of effort, so this means a lot to us," said Gipson. "We just had an amazing week. And a very fortunate week as well." LSU Shreveport snares runner-up spot Although the LSU-Shreveport team of Zach Caudle and Joe Landry did everything they could to wrest the title away from the University of Florida, in the end, they came up a tad short. But to be sure, it wasn't for lack of effort. After recording double-digit stringers all three days of the championship for a grand total of 37 pounds, 2 ounces, the duo managed to walk away with second-place overall and $20,000 in prize money - not bad for a couple of college kids. "Overall I'm satisfied. We fished hard, we're very consistent, we didn't lose a fish all week and we finished in second place every day," said Landry. `I just wish we had a chance to compete against these guys more often. Jake and Matt are great fishermen. And they earned it. We would have had to have caught 16 or 17 pounds today to beat them so you have to give them credit. We're really happy we wound up catching what we did. Really, everything went as well as it could for us all week." The LSU-Shreveport team, which probably had the most vocal fans by far of any other team in the finals, said they walked away from the championship with a host of memories and invaluable experiences. "We're just super excited," said Caudle. `We won $20,000 and that's just awesome. We also learned what it's like to fish with so much pressure. You really have to learn to handle the stress when you're fishing in a championship like this. I just feel really lucky right now." "It's just another chapter in our fishing careers," said Landry. "We also have to credit a lot of our success to our family and friends. Those guys, a lot of them, were out on boats watching us the entire tournament. And that meant a lot to us as well." The LSU-Shreveport duo said they targeting bass adhering to sloping banks with chunk rock using a combination of Zoom Speed Craws, Jewel finesse jigs and Strike King red-eye shad. "We just had a great time out there," said Caudle. "It's an experience I'll never forget." Auburn nets third place After finishing in third place during last year's national championship, Shaye Baker of Auburn University wanted nothing more than to compete once again for a championship title. In the end, he got his wish and once again, he finished the championship in third place - a stellar feat to say the least. "It would have been awesome to win but it was great getting back into the top five," said Baker. "It's really been a blessing to have been a part of this again. I've been part of this sport from the beginning (in 2009) and that's pretty special to me." "We had a good run and we gave it all we could," said Baker's partner Jordan Lee. "And we saved our best day for last." The Auburn University team said that throughout the week they landed the majority of their catch by targeting bass almost exclusively with a mini B-Bug crawfish imitation bait. However, in the end, the team's total weight of 36 pounds, 3 ounces left them a little less than 2 pounds out of second place. But for their efforts, the team walked away with $10,000 in prize money. "It was just a great experience," said Lee. "Hopefully I'll be back next year." N.C. State snares fourth place Although they started the day in fifth place and squeaked into the finals by a less than 1 pound, the N.C. State University team of Ben Dziwulski and Kevin Beverley managed to move up to fourth place overall by the end of the finals, despite missing some key bites for the third day in a row. The team ultimately parlayed a total catch of 28 pounds, 13 ounces into $10,000 in prize money as well. "It was a struggle out there today," said Dziwulski. "We missed a couple of opportunities but that's pretty much been the story for us all week." However, although they weren't able to walk away with the tournament title, they did achieve some satisfaction in knowing that they improved upon their 2010 national championship performance. "Last year was awful for us," said Dziwulski. "We were in seventh place after the first day but then we caught zero fish on day two. And we decided this year we weren't going to let that happen again. It definitely felt great to be fishing in the finals and to put some fish in the boat today. Hopefully we'll be back next year." CNU finishes fifth On the final day of competition, the Christopher Newport University team of Joe Wilkerson and Ryan Ingalls finally ran out of magic. Although they were one of the smallest schools (student population 4,793) and probably least well-known colleges in the entire championship, they turned in a performance worthy of any school in the nation. However, in the end, their total catch of 25 pounds, 8 ounces was only good enough for fifth place. "It was a tough tournament," said Wilkerson. "We had two really good days of fishing but unfortunately, today we laid an egg." Although they struggled to with only one fish in the finals, the team said the championship was an invaluable experience. "This is really awesome," said Ingalls of competing in the finals. `It was definitely really exciting. We tried as hard as we could but we struggled today. But in the end, I think our finish should at least bring some good awareness for our school." For their efforts, the team walked away with $10,000 in prize money and the respect of college anglers throughout the nation. Related links: Meet the 2011 FLW College Fishing National Championship teams National Guard FLW College Fishing rankings

Tags: headline-story 

/news/2015-08-01-browne-sticks-to-the-bank-to-win

Browne Sticks To The Bank To Win

A lot would have had to happen for Glenn Browne to relinquish his hard-earned lead on the final day of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain. It turned out that a lot did happen, but with help from his friends and a great pattern, Glenn Browne socked 18 pounds, 7 ounces on the final day for a 63-pound, 8-ounce total and a payday of $34,097 plus a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-hp outboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-08-01-champlain-midday-update-day-3

Champlain Midday Update Day 3

Day three of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain started with a beautiful sunrise and light rain that had tapered off by the beginning of takeoff. For leader Glenn Browne, the beauty was soon marred by a breakdown that occurred shortly into his run south. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 2

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Plano on Lake Champlain definitely shook up the leaderboard. While Glenn Browne took a huge lead, the rest of the pack swapped around and remained pretty tight. Browne is catching his fish down south near Ticonderoga, but the north end has also produced very well for the rest of the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-browne-crushes-again-leads-by-6-

Browne Crushes Again, Leads By 6+

Averaging 20 pounds or more is a difficult thing to do in a multi-day tournament on Lake Champlain, but Glenn Browne might be on his way to doing it in the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano. After two days, the Ocala, Fla., pro has run to Ticonderoga twice and sacked up nearly identical bags for a total of 45 pounds, 8 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-31-champlain-midday-update-day-2

Champlain Midday Update Day 2

While day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was wracked by high winds and rain in the morning, day two has been almost as good as Champlain can be. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-cioppa-leads-on-champlain

Cioppa Leads On Champlain

David Cioppa of Hopkinton, Mass., weighed 22 pounds, 13 ounces late in the weigh-in to grab the lead after the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Champlain. Cioppa weighed all largemouths and says that he caught the entirety of his weight by about 9 a.m. from one location in the northern end of the lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-top-5-patterns-from-champlain-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Champlain Day 1

Lake Champlain was rough and wild on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano, and a bunch of the anglers still got it done in a big way. David Cioppa caught largemouths in the Inland Sea, but the rest of the top guys spread out all over the massive lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-30-champlain-midday-update-day-1

Champlain Midday Update Day 1

Takeoff was placid enough, with a beautiful sunrise and a light breeze in the slightly protected corner that is Plattsburgh. By about 6:30 a.m., day one of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Plano on Lake Champlain was already beginning to get rough. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-21-top-picks-from-icast

Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-renfrew-fished-to-win

Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-docks-and-rocks-key-for-synders

Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-jig-crankbait-carry-powroznik

Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-20-persistence-pays-for-arning

Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-rod-roundup

New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-17-new-terminal-tackle

New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-flw-announces-2016-tour-schedule

FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-reels-to-try

6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-6-new-lines-from-icast-2015

6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-icast-best-of-show-winners-

ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »

/news/2015-07-16-10-new-frogs-and-toads

10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »