Eldridge angler wins college fishing national championship with Drury University

Charity Muehlenweg, Major League Fishing
Cole Breeden of Eldridge and Cameron Smith of Nixa won the first national title in school history for Drury University in a fishing tournament on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla.

The Drury University duo of Cole Breeden of Eldridge, Missouri and Cameron Smith of Nixa, Missouri, weighed a five-bass limit Friday totaling 14 pounds, 10 ounces to win the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance at Grand Lake. This is the first national title for Drury, who had two teams in the top five, and earned the team a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship to compete as pros for a shot to win up to $235,000.

After leading on day one, then dropping to third place on day two, the Panther duo’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 41-10 gave them the win by a 1-pound, 5-ounce margin. Zackary Martin and Harbor Lovin from Murray State University finished second with 15 bass weighing 40-5.

“This has been an awesome week,” said Smith. “At the beginning of the week, we planned to just get a limit each of the first few days and to keep to ourselves and stay in contention. We didn’t realize at the time that what we were catching would keep us in contention for the win.”

Breeden said Grand Lake was a lot like one of their home lakes, Lake of the Ozarks, but the fish seemed to be in an atypical position for this time of year.

“If we were on Lake of the Ozarks right now, we would be fishing secondary points pretty much all day, but this week we found them up shallow,” said Smith. “We think it had something to do with the sunny, warm days earlier this week, warming up the water and making the fish up by the bank a little more active than the ones out deep.”

The duo said they spent most of the week throwing jerkbaits in the pockets in the back of creeks but the Jackall Rerange Jerkbait was key and definitely reeled in the most fish.

“We found ourselves even farther back in pockets on the final day,” Smith said. “The wind was blowing that direction, which moved the shad and baitfish even farther back. We looked for pockets that had steeper bank on them then dropped off – the fish were hanging right on that edge – so we dropped the jerkbait on top of the ledge, then worked it down. They followed it out and we could see them eat the bait on the livescope about half-way back to the boat.”

“Areas were a big thing for us – just finding the right depth in a pocket with the perfect kind of ledge on it was key,” said Breeden.

On taking home the win, the duo said they couldn’t be happier and knew their coach and school would definitely be proud.

“I’ve got to be honest, the only thing keeping me from passing out during the weigh-in was that seat holding me up – It was a nail-biter,” laughed Smith. “It just means so much – watching our team at Drury grow is amazing. Having the opportunity to fish on Championship Friday alone is amazing, let alone two teams making it into the top five and one of us taking home the win – we couldn’t be more excited.”

The top 10 teams on Grand Lake finished:

1st: Drury University – Cole Breeden, Eldridge, Mo., and Cameron Smith, Nixa, Mo., 15 bass, 41-10

2nd: Murray State University – Zachary Martin, Murray, Ky., and Harbor Lovin, Fayetteville, Ohio, 15 bass, 40-5

3rd: Josh Kelly, Cortland, Ohio, 15 bass, 39-3     

4th: Drury University – Grant Harris, Springfield, Mo., and Beau Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 36-7

5th: Zachary Potter, Haddon Township, N.J. and Alex Johnson, Milltown, N.J., 13 bass, 35-0

6th: Murray State University – Blake Albertson, Bloomington, Ind., and Luke Ripple, Mount Vernon, Ind., 15 bass, 33-9

7th: McKendree University – Trey Schroeder, Crestwood, Mo., and Tyler Christy, Bolingbrook, Ill., 12 bass, 33-1

8th: Justin Luetkemeyer and Josh Luetkemeyer, both of Chesterfield, Mo., 13 bass, 31-0

9th: University of Montevallo – Grayson Morris, Birmingham, Ala., and Jacob Pfundt, Ball Ground, Ga., 12 bass, 27-6

10th: Adrian College – Gunner Wilson, Fenton, Mich., and Zach Manneback, Hartland, Mich., 11 bass, 25-10

For a full list of results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 41 bass weighing 98 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 10 teams Friday. The catch included 6 five-bass limits.

The Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance at Grand Lake is hosted by the Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau.

The 12th annual College Fishing Championship three-day event featured the top 150 college bass fishing teams from across the nation competing in an internationally televised, no-entry fee tournament for a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

In addition to the boat package, both members of the winning team and the runners-up now advance to the 2021 Toyota Series Championship, Oct. 28-30 on Pickwick Lake in Hardin County, Tennessee, where they will compete as pros for a top prize of up to $235,000. Both members of the third-place team also now advance to the 2021 Toyota Series Championship, to compete as co-anglers for a shot at winning a $33,500 Phoenix 518 Pro with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

National television coverage of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance will premiere Sunday, July 4, from 8-9 a.m. ET on the Outdoor Channel, with re-airs on the Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network in the fall.

Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top ten teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing Open advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI on MLF’s social media outlets at  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.