Young Harris, GA, United States (4E Sports) – Former Reynolds football standout Jake Whitaker and UNC Charlotte teammate Andrew Helms beat out 83 other fishing teams to capture the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship Wednesday.
The duo caught a total fish weight of 38 pounds, 9 ounces over three days on Lake Chatuge. Each angler received a $2,500 cash prize from Carhartt.
Later, the 22-year-old Whitaker compared the win to Reynolds’ 2009 NCHSAA 4-A championship five years ago at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
“It was almost the same (as winning the state football championship). The butterflies were rolling, especially that last day and the fishing was tough. We were competing against 160 of the best college bass fishermen out there,” said Whitaker, a fifth-year senior at Charlotte who is majoring in Civil Engineering.
“With us being only two hours from here, a lot of my family and friends were there for support and I had a ton of text messages and calls. Knowing that everyone was cheering for us was awesome,” he added.
They belong the university’s club fishing team, the Bass Rats, which has only been in existence for about a year. They were fishing off of Whitaker’s boat – a Skeeter brand model with a 225-horsepower Yamaha motor.
Almost all of their competition ventured out into deeper parts of Lake Chatuge, but Whitaker and Helms stuck to fishing shallower areas with artificial lures that resembled a bluegill fish.