Tech Fishermen Fall Just Short of Making Cut

In the end, Arkansas Tech Fishing Club members Evan Barnes and Dustin Huggins were just one more good fish away from their dream.

Barnes (photographed, left) and Huggins (photographed, right) pulled almost 15 pounds worth of fish from the Arkansas River in Little Rock and Lake Maumelle during the first two days of the 2011 College BASS National Championship, but the cut line to make the top five and fish for the national championship on Saturday fell at 17 pounds, five ounces.

Arkansas Tech was the next-to-last team to weigh in following day two of the event on Friday, and the anxious looks on the faces of the Tech anglers indicated a team that knew it was right on the bubble.

After catching four fish weighing a total of seven pounds, nine ounces on Thursday, Barnes and Huggins bagged the limit of five fish on Friday. The scales registered an even seven pounds for their haul on day two, giving them a two-day total of 14 pounds, nine ounces.

As a result, College BASS West Super Regional champion Arkansas Tech saw its hopes of a 2011 fishing national championship come to an end.

“We just couldn’t put the big bites together in one day,” said Huggins. “We lost some fish out there and it hurt us.”

Barnes in particular lamented the loss of a three-pounder that slipped through their grasp on Lake Maumelle on Friday morning. He felt like that fish could have been enough to move them inside the top five.

“We’ve had a lot of success this year, but you could say it is bittersweet,” said Barnes. “To come as close as we did and not make the cut is bad.” 

Virginia Tech (1st, 23 pounds, nine ounces), Stephen F. Austin University (2nd, 20 pounds, 14 ounces), the University of Georgia (3rd, 20 pounds, 13 ounces), Texas A&M University (4th, 20 pounds, eight ounces) and Auburn University (5th, 17 pounds, five ounces) are the five teams that will fish for the national championship on Saturday.

Arkansas Tech finished eighth in the 2011 College BASS National Championship. It was the second top-10 finish in a national tournament for Barnes and Huggins this year. They finished 10th in the U.S. Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship at Lake Lewisville, Texas, in May.

Barnes is from Russellville and is majoring in mechanical engineering. Huggins is a White Hall product. He chose electrical engineering as his major field of study. Both will be seniors at Arkansas Tech this fall.