(Editor’s note: Leading up to the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship – slated for April 19-21 on Beaver Lake in Rodgers, Ark. – CollegeFishing.com will publish weekly, in-depth features stories of each of the 25 national championship team qualifiers. At stake in the tournament is a first-place prize package that includes $30,000 in cash, a brand new, Ranger Z-117 bass boat and an automatic berth in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup.)
Club Web site: http://www.hokiebass.com/
CollegeFishing.com: How were you introduced to fishing?
Andrew Jackson: I was introduced to tournament fishing when I was 12 or 13 years old by my uncle, Kevin Baldwin. I started out fishing night tournaments on South Holston Lake in southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee. I knew right away that tournament fishing was for me because I love the competitiveness.
Pat Snellings: I was introduced to fishing by my parents when I was 2 or 3 years old. From the time I was old enough to walk, I was on a boat in some shape or form and that continued throughout my childhood. I would have to say that my stepdad was the one that really got me started bass fishing though. He helped me build a foundation of knowledge that I have continually added to as I’ve grown and matured as an angler.
CollegeFishing.com: What style/method of fishing are you most comfortable with?
Andrew Jackson: I really enjoy fishing main-lake points and deep water. I love throwing big swimbaits for big smallmouth.
Pat Snellings: After spending two and a half years fishing clear, deep lakes around Blacksburg, Va., I would have to say I’ve gotten really comfortable with drop-shotting. I have had some of my best tournament success (not necessarily greatest weights) with my 7-foot, 1-inch ML 13 Fishing Omen rod and 5-pound test Gamma fishing line. However, I still feel at home flipping jigs and fishing shallow cover.
CollegeFishing.com: What did it feel like to qualify for the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship? How do you plan to prepare for the big event?
Andrew Jackson: It was very satisfying to qualify for the National Championship. I worked hard to do it. I made trips to North Carolina and Indiana to fish qualifiers for the regional on Philpott Lake. It was a great feeling to be in the top five on that final day.
I plan to make my way to Arkansas during my spring break to get a few days in on Beaver Lake. It will be my first trip there, but I have heard great things about the lake. I think it will play into my style of fishing and I think it should be an awesome time of the year for the tournament.
Pat Snellings: Honestly, after qualifying for the FLW College Fishing National Championship I felt both blessed and a relieved. I transferred to Virginia Tech as a junior in the fall of 2010 strictly to pursue a degree in Fisheries Science. And immediately after hearing about the bass fishing team I knew I had to join. During my first year I fared really well, especially within the club. I was also excited for a chance to fish the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference qualifier at 1000 Islands. However, my partner David Bryant and I ended up bombing it. It was a humbling experience for both of us, but this year I have had success that I never could have dreamed of.
Andrew and I had an eighth-place finish and a win in the Northern Conference going into the Regional Championship. As a result, the pressure was on knowing that this was my last chance to qualify for the National Championship. We were the last boat to weigh in on day two and I was certain it was going to be tight to make the cut. When we came on stage and were told that our 7-pound bag was just enough, I was both relieved and ecstatic. I had never fished that hard for 14 pounds of fish in my life, but it was worth it in the end for a chance to fish against the best college anglers in the country in the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
Preparing for the National Championship is going to be challenge since Beaver Lakes is over 11 hours away from Auburn, Ala. Therefore, I will begin by looking at previous tournament data and scouring over topographic maps of the lake to find something special. I hope to get out to practice over spring break, but that is all up in the air at the moment due to my field work for graduate school. Be certain though that Andrew and I, along with Jody White and David Bryant of Virginia Tech, will be ready to fish come April 19th.
CollegeFishing.com: Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn’t know.
Andrew Jackson: My family owns – and I work on – a farm that raises bucking bulls. We have a herd of cows and breeding bulls, raise them up from newborn calves to rodeo bulls. We haul them all over the country to different rodeos with associations such as SEBRA and the PBR. They are very fun and interesting and, at times, can give you huge adrenaline rushes.
Pat Snellings: The first boat I ever purchased was 1976 Ouachita 16-foot aluminum boat that I bought for $200. I restored the trailer and built the boat into a bass jon so I could fish in an all electric bass club events called the Weekend Bassers. We fished mainly water supply reservoirs as well as a couple of tributaries of the Potomac River in Virginia. The funny part about the boat, however, is that I bought the boat before I owned a truck to tow it with. Luckily – and with some help from loving parents – I ended up with my Chevrolet Silverado before the boat was ready to hit the water.
Also, I would love to throw in a shameless plug if possible. If you want to follow me fishing for Auburn University or see any of my writing or research, check out my website patsnellings.com.