Drake Vines, a freshman at Southern Arkansas University, left, awaits results of a recent college fishing event in Pottsville, Texas.

The Southern Arkansas University Bass Fishing Team placed seventh overall in a recent regional tournament, earning SAU’s anglers their first invitation to a national tournament.
Drake Vines, a freshman from El Dorado, Arkansas, and Reed Barham, a sophomore from Hope, Arkansas, represented SAU at the event, in which more than 100 anglers participated. Their showing in the YETI FLW College Fishing Tournament earns the SAU team a spot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship, which Warren Basinger, the team’s president, said will be the team’s first national competition.

“We placed seventh with 17 pounds and 10 ounces,” Basinger said. “Ninety-two teams from Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana competed.”

According to the Press Release, Vines and Barham spent the day targeting large-mouth bass on the south end of the lake, along a 150-yard stretch of bank off Highpoint Marina.

He said he and Barham found the environment windy and cold. “It was our first time at Texoma, so we had to adapt to conditions and find the right depth of water. We ended up fishing in only one area. We fished this particular stretch 12 times and connected with a solid fish every time.”

They looked for a depth of at least 12 feet with trees laid over. “We wanted water that made us comfortable,” he said. “Texoma was different. It has a lot of red clay. You get to pick and choose where you like fishing best. If you like deep water, you can fish on the east end, if you like shallow water, you can fish on the west end. We wanted to find our dirty water we were used to back home.”

He said he is “definitely excited” about going to Nationals next year. “I’m really interested to see how we do,” Vines said. The team will find out the date and location of the national championship event later this year. “It’ll be good fishing,” Vines said.

“I think it sends a shot across the bow,” Basinger said of the team qualifying for a national event. “This is the first national championship we qualified for, and I don’t see it being the last. Drake is a freshman and he has three, possibly four more years to fish on our team. No one can say our team hasn’t done anything yet. This was huge for us.”

Basinger said the team has had a good year and will next compete May 31-June 1 in a state qualifier event at Lake Hamilton, Arkansas, sponsored by the Arkansas Bass Federation and the Arkansas B.A.S.S. College Nation to qualify for the 2018 Bassmaster College National Championship presented by Carhartt. Team members are currently competing for points to become the Mulerider Angler of the Year. The top three in points are only separated by 50 points going into the last two events. There are presently 20 members. The team is already recruiting for the 2018-2019 season.

A scholarship is offered to qualifying anglers through the SAU Foundation. “Anybody who intends to join the team can apply,” Basinger said. “It is for high-priority high school seniors, but anyone who is currently a member can also apply.” The two scholarships are in the amount of $2,500 each.

Barham and Vines are both majoring in business administration. Basinger is a junior marketing major from Magnolia, Arkansas.

Cutline: Drake Vines, a freshman at Southern Arkansas University, left, awaits results of a recent college fishing event in Pottsville, Texas.