Tarleton State University Bass Club anglers Chad Jones and Graham Godwin set the tone for the 2018 spring tournament season by winning the first YETI Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) College Fishing event of the year on Sam Rayburn Reservoir Saturday, with four bass totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

The duo’s first-place finish earned the Tarleton Bass Club, which competes in FLW’s Southern Conference, $2,000 in prize monies and a slot in the 2019 FLW College Fishing National Championship. Jones and Godwin edged second-place Stephen F. Austin by just one ounce at the scales.

“This win is huge for our club,” said Jones, a junior majoring in agricultural business. “We want to win School of the Year, and this is a great way to start off the season and earn some points.”

Godwin and Jones reported they started their day fishing north of the launch site, west of Jackson Hill Park and Marina at Rayburn. They worked along a 100-yard stretch of steep bank packed with hydrilla and were able to put three good fish in the boat early on.

“We had the boat in 13 to 15 feet of water and slow-rolled lipless crankbaits over the hydrilla,” said Godwin, a sophomore majoring in wildlife science. “The bites we got came in the 3- to 5-foot range. I caught our first keeper within the first few casts, which really got our blood pumping.”

Godwin said he used a gold-colored lipless crankbait to catch the first keeper. After 25 minutes, the team capitalized on the momentum with two more solid fish.

“I caught a 6.5-pounder just working down the bank,” Jones said. “On the next pass, I caught a 7-pounder in the exact same spot. Those first three catches really set the tone for the day.”

Jones caught his two lunkers on a half-ounce Sexy Shad-colored Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait. He credited his offset treble hooks with helping get the fish in the boat. “I replaced the original treble hooks with offset treble hooks,” said Jones. “My bites went under the boat, and I think they were crucial in keeping the fish on.”

With only minutes left in the tournament, Godwin said they caught their final fish from similar hydrilla near the launch ramp.

“The last bite was our most important bite of the day, even though it was a small bass. It gave us the win by an ounce,” Godwin said.