Pearl River anglers place 4th in major college tournament
BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Dylan Herrington and Tanner Gregory grew up in Picayune. When they weren’t fishing in the local ponds and rivers, they were watching their favorite anglers reel in big catch after big catch on TV.
This weekend they were living their dreams as they represented Pearl River in the FLW Abu Garcia College Fishing Tournament at Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia.
Competing in the new team’s second-ever tournament, it would have been reasonable to hope for a top 100 finish; maybe top 50. The Wildcat duo defied the odds — and difficult weather conditions — to place a whopping fourth out of 140 college teams.
“Ever since we were little kids we’ve been watching professionals and college fishermen on tv. We never thought we’d be in this situation. I told Dylan the night before that we’re living the dream,” Gregory said. “For our first college tournament, we were really excited to place fourth. It was just a really awesome day. It was a day I’ll never forget for sure.”
The fourth-place catch tipped the scales at 13 pounds, 15 ounces.
Bethel teams took first, second and third, with a catch of 19 pounds, one ounce taking the crown.
Teams from Troy, Georgetown College, University of Montevallo, Bryan College and Florida State rounded out the top 10.
Pearl River bass fishing tandem of Dylan Herrington (left) and Tanner Gregory placed fourth over the weekend in the FLW Abu Garcia College Fishing Tournament at Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia out of a field of 140 colleges. (PRCC ATHLETICS)
The field had two practice days leading up to the big tournament. In between a cold front came through the area, drastically changing the team’s plan of attack.
Instead of fishing in the deeper parts of the lake, Herrington and Gregory opted to do what they know best.
“We were worried the cold front would hurt us so we decided to push up and try to catch them in the shallows how we know how to catch them and it worked out,” Gregory said. “It was cold at first, but we pushed through. Once it warmed up we started to catch more.”
WAITING TO WEIGH IN Throughout the morning the tandem went back and forth about their chances of placing. Their chances seemed to ebb and flow with every rock of the boat.
“We expected to catch that much weight, however we did not expect to be able to place as high as we did with so many teams. We figured it would take a lot more. The weather hurt everybody else but didn’t impact us much,” Gregory said. “Towards the end of the day, once it started coming down to the wire, Dylan and I were talking. We didn’t think we’d place that high, but we were going to fish it out, keep our heads up and see.”
Excitement began to build as they pulled up to the weigh-in station.
“When we pulled up to the ramp, they had already started weighing in. I looked and Dylan and said, I think we got that one,” Gregory said, watching the competition check in one at a time. “No one was bringing in fish. Then we stepped up to the scales.”
The weigh master checked their fish with the Wildcats in first.
“That really got us excited. It was a very unforgettable moment, when you’re sitting in first place,” Gregory said. “We were pulling our hair out because we were hoping it would end as soon as possible.”
Although three teams ultimately passed up PRCC, placing fourth was a proud moment for the new Wildcat team.
“I’m very excited for them. Bass fishing is a very tough and demanding sport. When you have a bunch of kids like we have who aren’t familiar with big lake fishing, to go to a lake they’re not familiar with and compete with some of the best colleges out there, it’s pretty cool,” coach Brandon Craft said. “That’s the cool part. There’s no divisions in college fishing, so they had teams from Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida State. You compete against everybody.”
UPCOMING SCHEDULE PRCC has several more competitions coming up on the calendar.
The Wildcats will be sending three teams to the Lake Sam Rayborn in Texas for a tournament on Feb. 23 and three teams to Smith Lake in Alabama on Feb. 27-29.
HOW TO SPONSOR Anyone who’s interested in joining the team or would like to sponsor the bass fishing Wildcats can contact Craft at BMC322@gmail.com.