LAKE LEWISVILLE, Texas, June 1, 2011 –- Friday was a busy day for the nearly 300 collegiate anglers who battled it out on Texas’ Lake Lewisville at the 2011 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. While University of Central Florida students Miles “Sonar” Burghoff and Casey O’Donnell were busy filling the live well with a tournament total of 27.92 pounds earning them the first place finish, TowBoatUS Capt. Jay Nunnally was helping other competitors just stay afloat as winds howled and conditions roughened.
The first casualty came on a practice day, Tuesday, May 24, when the Hazard Community and Technical College (KY) team of Aaron Coombs and Darrell Deaton capsized in blustery conditions. As part of the tournament, all student competitors were supplied with state-of-the-art inflatable life jackets by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, and local TowBoatUS Lake Lewisville Captain Jay Nunnally provided on-the-water towing and salvage services.
The two students were plucked from the water by a Good Samaritan but the boat was lost until the following day when it was spotted about three miles from its original position. Capt. Nunnally was able to retrieve and right the vessel – saving seven of 14 rods that had been stored aboard as well as nearly all of the tackle. The students got a second lucky break when another bass boat was loaned to them allowing them to stay in the tournament.
Calm conditions prevailed on Thursday, day one, before Friday’s blustery winds put extra strain on trolling motors as competitors tried to stay on productive hot spots. This drained the batteries on three boats, which then could not start their engines, leading Capt. Nunnally to provide jumpstarts to all three. All made it back to weigh-in at tournament headquarters, including a fourth vessel with engine problems that had to be towed.
On Friday afternoon, waves swamped the University of Missouri’s Champ Caldwin and Chris Splan’s 20-foot bass boat. Emergency crews from the Lewisville Fire Department responded. Luckily again, the two students were picked-up quickly by Good Samaritans who then transferred them to Capt. Nunnally’s response vessel. The swamped vessel was then towed in.
“This tournament is really no different than what we do any day of the year,” said Capt. Nunnally. “We’re here 24/7 to help boaters, anglers and sailors who unexpectedly need help getting back home. The rough, windy conditions always cause problems.”
Prior to the event, the first place team of Burghoff and O’Donnell signed up for BoatUS Angler memberships and the accompanying “Weigh-to-Win” contingency bonus program. As the highest-placing finishers, the University of Central Florida team took home an additional $1,000.