Representatives from Mid-Plains Community College placed 36th out of 116 teams at a national fishing tournament over the weekend.
Grant Pavelka and Dylan Petersen, both of North Platte, competed at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops Thursday and Friday in Dayton, Tenn. They caught the five-fish limit the first day and three fish the second day for a total weight of 25 pounds and 7 ounces.
It wasn’t enough to put them into the final round on Saturday because only the top 12 teams advanced, but despite that, the men were happy with the results.
“The first fish I caught on the second day was a seven pounder, which was like having three fish,” said Pavelka. “So, that was pretty cool. We knew we had a lot of ground to catch up going into that day.”
The men were up against teams from across the nation who were fishing for largemouth bass out of Chickamauga Lake. The warm waters proved to be a challenge.
“About 80 percent of the people entered had fished that lake before and that helped them out a lot,” said Petersen. “For it being our first time on the lake, I think we had a pretty good showing.”
Pavelka and Petersen got to Chickamauga a week ahead of time to do some scouting, but couldn’t actually fish the lake until right before the tournament due to competition rules.
“We had three official days of practice [July 29-31],” said Pavelka. “It was kind of crazy because everyone down there fishes off the bank. That worked in our favor because we love fishing shallow water.”
In addition to gaining experience competing at a higher level of competition, Pavelka and Petersen did a lot of networking and made some invaluable contacts.
“We saw a lot of people who are famous on the college tour,” said Pavelka. “That was fun, and it added to the intensity. We wanted to beat those people we had seen in the magazines.”
Now that he and Petersen have graduated, their time on the college circuit is over. That doesn’t mean they plan to quit fishing, however. Both plan to hit some open tournaments in the future.
“I’m really thankful to Grant that he reached out to me that first year about being a part of the college’s fishing club,” said Petersen. “College fishing is getting to be a bigger deal all the time, and it’s an awesome opportunity. To be able to go to nationals and experience something like that was amazing.”