Gilbertsville, Ky. – Sophomore Bryan College Lions Angler, Dylan Kear (SO/Clinton, Tenn.), explained that qualifying for the FLW National Championship was not even on the radar as he and his fellow anglers from the Bryan Lions Fishing Team headed to Gilbertsville, Ky. to tackle Kentucky Lake in the FLW Open on Apr. 1-2.
The first Open on Kentucky Lake in 2015 was the largest collegiate bass tournament ever assembled when 194 teams from schools around the country competed for a new Ranger bass boat and 10 early qualifying bids into the National Championship.
Something new this year was that the top 15 teams at the Open got to advance to the 2017 National Championship, and the team of Kear and his partner Nathan Bell (JR/Riceville, Tenn.) managed to slide in at No. 14 with a total of eight fish through the two days, totaling a weight of 25.4 lbs. On day one they hooked four fish for a total of 10.8 lbs., but on the second they turned in an impressive 14.12 lbs. on four keepers. This year's open proved to be more competitive as the Lions hit the water and faced-off against a total of 203 boats.
"We headed into the Open with the mindset of picking up as many team points as possible before heading to Pickwick Lake for the Cabela's Collegiate Championship," stated Kear. "We both imagined that we would have to qualify at either Lake Guntersville (Ala.) in May or on our home lake (Chickamauga) in September. We never thought that the Open would be the place we would qualify."
Despite dropping one place, the 14th place finish by Kear and Bell aided the Lions with 189 points to go towards the Cabela's School of the Year competition to keep a remarkable 3rd place ranking among the 340 schools vying for the crown.
Kear explained that for practice they had come across a spot that showed some promise with a few good fish. "We came back to the spot on day one and fished but couldn't get a bite, so we took off to another potential spot and fished about five hours and it turned some great fish. Nathan caught four fish off that spot rather quickly, but we just scrambled and came up short in getting a fifth fish."
On day two, Kear mentioned, "We pulled back to the original spot, and within 10 minutes we caught our big fish. It was approximately 5.5 lbs. and was a game-changer for us. I reeled in two more keepers from the spot, and after a few hours we made our way down to a cove where we caught a 4-pounder."
"Right now, I'm just looking to the end of the year and to finish well as a team in the final three tournaments in order to boost our team higher in the running for School of the Year," said Kear.
The location of the FLW National Championship will be announced in October.
The Bryan Anglers look to have more Lions qualify for the FLW National Championship as they jump back into action on May 21 at Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala.
For more information about Bryan College Fishing, visit bryanlions.com/fishing.