SANDUSKY, Ohio (Sept. 12, 2022) – The Adrian College duo of Matthew Davis of Morenci, Michigan, and Sam Shoemaker of Martinsville, Indiana, won the MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing tournament on Lake Erie Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces. The victory earned the Bulldogs’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2023 MLF College Fishing National Championship.
“We had found some decent fish in practice,” Davis said. “Maybe not the quantity we wanted, but we were catching some really nice-sized fish.”
“There wasn’t a whole lot of wind (Friday), and that kind of scared us,” Shoemaker said. “But when we got out there, there was still a little bit of chop to the water. On one of the first couple of pitches, Matt hooked up on one right underneath the boat. It came up to the surface and jumped, and I don’t know if there was a nick in the line or what, but it snapped off. That fish was every bit of four pounds.”
The Bulldog team didn’t let that rocky start faze them, and they continued to focus on their game plan – using their Garmin LiveScope to toss baits at boulders in 16 to 24 feet of water in the Middle Bass Island part of Lake Erie. Davis said he threw a Ned rig with a green pumpkin Z-Man TRD, while Shoemaker used the same bait on a drop-shot rig. Their tactics resulted in seven smallmouth during the course of the tournament. Davis said they caught all of their fish between noon and 2:30 p.m.
“We went and fished a couple of other areas, but for some reason, that spot was just a gut feeling. It was calling our name,” Shoemaker said. “We caught a lot of drum and catfish, but once we caught some brown fish in between, it gave us the confidence to stay in that area and put our nose to the grindstone and try to make something happen.”
Davis said the key to their victory was moving into water that was a bit more shallow. He said the bright sun was moving smallmouth into the 16-foot range to hold on large boulders.
“This is just a very surreal moment,” Shoemaker said. “I didn’t think it was going to pan out like that. But we’re very glad it fell into place. I just can’t put this feeling into words.
“I’m a senior, and I’ve been fishing MLF since I was a freshman, and to come out and put that much effort into every event and then get the win on Erie, especially as tough as that part of Erie is … I’m just super stoked,” Shoemaker continued.
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2023 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: Adrian College – Matthew Davis, Morenci, Mich., and Sam Shoemaker, Martinsville, Ind., five bass, 19-8, $2,000
2nd: Penn State University – Michael Staub, State College, Pa., and Eric Wawrzyniak, Lebanon, Pa., five bass, 19-8, $1,000
3rd: Western Michigan University – Branden Burrill, Galesburg, Mich., and John Simmons, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 18-9, $500
4th: Adrian College – Cole Carr, New Baltimore, Mich., and Paxton Giem, Boyne City, Mich., five bass, 18-6, $500
5th: Kentucky Christian University – Jonathan Fraley, Flat Gap, Ky., and Reece Keeney, Hortonville, Wis., five bass, 18-3, $500
6th: Adrian College – Braylon Eggerding, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Nicholas Seitz, Maumee, Ohio, five bass, 18-2
7th: Adrian College – Shane Nelson, Wadsworth, Ohio, and Derek Rodriguez, Okemos, Mich., five bass, 17-11
8th: Kentucky Christian University – Jonathan Fitch, Inez, Ky., and Blayne Leeman, Kokomo, Ind., five bass, 17-0
9th: Nicholls State University – Zachary Henderson, Metairie, La., and Miles Smith, Houma, La., five bass, 16-14
10th: Minnesota State University-Mankato – Brian Linder, Mankato, Minn., and Nathan Thompson, Eagan, Minn., five bass, 16-12
Complete results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.