Colin Bennett was disappointed in his best catch following a cold and rainy day on Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho Saturday, Oct. 19.
But after a rough day on the water, Bennett still managed to reel in a $28,000 scholarship to Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee to fish on their bass team.
“I plan to major in either business administration with a focus on accounting or management,” Bennett said. The scholarship is good for $7,000 a year for four years.
Bennett, a senior at Tunstall High School and the son of Dusty and Nathalie Bennett, took the Big Bass Junior Championship stage carrying a white bag with his best catch of the day.
“It was an experience,” Bennett said at weigh in after being asked if he had a good day on the lake.
Bennett managed to pull in a smallmouth bass weighing in at 1.30 pounds.
“The conditions were brutal, cold, and rainy all day,” Bennett said. “I fished with Nick Sanderson from New York. He had a 1.10 pound smallmouth.”
During the tournament, Bennett managed to catch six fish, but said only two were keepers.
“I caught a 12 inch fish (minimum keeper size) and then culled him out with the 1.30 pound smallmouth that I ended up weighing,” Bennett said.
But the day for Bennett wasn’t all lost.
After finishing weigh-ins, and knowing he wasn’t going home with the $30,000 first prize bass boat, Bennett went to select a prize from the prize from the prize pool, and was surprised to find one scholarship remained.
Without hesitation, the 22nd-place Bennett snagged the scholarship.
“The prize pool was huge and kids selected what they wanted in the order of how they finished starting with second place,” Bennett said.
The scholarship was among prizes that included kayaks, guided fishing trips to the Amazon, and other prizes according to Bennett.
Bennett noted he learned a lot from the tournament and said he should have tried to find a backup plan.
“Plan A didn’t work out… the fish were caught on a fast moving bait before the tournament, but the rain came and the bite slowed down. I made a mistake by not slowing down for the fish,” Bennett said.
Eric Thaxton, who lives in Idaho and is the father of Tunstall High School teacher David Thaxton, showed Bennett spots to try and gave him bait to use for the tournament.
“I ended up catching the fish I weighed in with off a spot he said to fish,” Bennett said. “Prep work helped a lot.”
After returning home, Bennett is looking forward to starting school at Bethel University.
“The main philosophy I follow in life, but fishing especially, is ‘if God wants it to happen, it’ll happen,’” Bennett said.