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Bryan College’s Cole Sands and Conner Dimauro led the 2019 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship for two days but ultimately fell to second place when competition concluded. While they narrowly missed winning the tournament, the Bryan Lions did win $500 from Toyota Bonus Bucks College Series.
Sands, who recently graduated with a degree in Business Administration drives a 2006 Toyota 4Runner to tow his 18-foot aluminum Tracker to lakes all around the country for college fishing competition.
“I’ve got about 210,000 thousand miles on that beast right now,” Sands said with a smile. “But she’s got another 200K in her I’d say… easily.”
Both Sands and Dimauro were praising of the old 4Runner, saying it was reliable as it is spacious. They pointed out how much gear they had packed in the mid sized SUV and said the enclosed vehicle was an advantage.
“Heck we’ve both slept in that car for fishing tournaments before,” said Dimauro, a junior studying Business Marketing. “We bunked at the boat ramp for a couple nights on Lake Seminole for an FLW college tournament earlier this year.”
Towing with the Toyota 4Runner has been a well thought out decision, not only for the qualities mentioned above, but more so to ensure they are eligible for the College Series segment of the Bonus Bucks contingency program.
“What’s not to love about Bonus Bucks,” Sands asked. “Any year tow vehicle qualifies you for the college program, which is awesome, and the extra winnings go a long way to pay for any expenses our school doesn’t cover. We’ve won Bonus Bucks in five or six events this year alone and that money has helped out a lot.”
Sands and Dimauro weren’t taking much time to celebrate their impressive 2nd place finish amongst the nations best college anglers. Instead, they were heading back to the house to pack for a drive to Kentucky Lake, so they could both serve as boat captains for their younger brothers in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Championship.
Taking time to support the next generation and give back to the sport they love proves that while they fell just short of hoisting the 1st place trophies, there is no doubt these two left the Dayton Boat Dock as champions in living life right.
To learn more, or to get registered for Toyota Bonus Bucks College Series, follow this link: https://www.toyotatrucksbonusbucks.com/college . Just like the official Bonus Bucks program anglers don’t need to win an event, they just have to be the highest finishing registered participant. If you’d rather call than click, give (918) 742-6424 a call and they’ll be happy to help you out.
Cameron Smith and Cole Breeden of Drury University only brought three bass to the scales on day one of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, but they weighed an impressive 13-lbs and 13-ounces which kept them in the hunt, sitting in 34th place.
Their 3-fish bag included one Chickamauga giant that tipped the scales at nearly 8-lbs. The big bass came off a spot that produced another behemoth for the duo in practice. It was obvious their optimism was running high when talking to them after Thursday’s opening round of competition.
“We are definitely around the right kind of fish,” Breeden said excitedly. “We just need to fish clean tomorrow and get five of them in the boat. If we can do that, we have the chance to weigh in one of those limits Lake Chickamauga is famous for.”
Smith and Breeden will be hunting those five bites today, in hopes their efforts will land them within the top 12 teams so they can keep their championship dreams alive and fish on Saturday. The native Missourians qualified for this event by finishing 4th in the first College Series regional on Lake Norman back in February.
Not only did their Lake Norman finish get them in the National Championship, it also won them $150 from the Toyota Bonus Bucks College Series. Toyota launched the college portion of the popular contingency program back in 2016 and it’s been rewarding thankful college anglers competing in numerous college fishing trails with bonus money ever since.
Similar to the “official” Bonus Bucks program, College Series is paid out to the highest placing registered participant in Carhartt Bassmaster College Series tournaments. So you don’t have to win an event to get paid, you just have to finish in the top 50% of the field and place higher than other Bonus Bucks registered anglers.
The main difference is college anglers are eligible for the program if they tow their boat with ANY year Toyota tow vehicle. Also for the College Series, the vehicle can be in the angler’s parent(s)’ or legal guardian’s name.
Such is the case for Smith, a junior studying Biology, who’s Dad graciously lets him borrow his Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition. It’s not lost on the two Drury University Panthers how fortunate they are to be able to drive to their college tournaments in comfort and style.
“It’s hard not to love driving this Tundra,” Smith said. “It tows super well, has a ton of room inside for all our gear, and is just a super comfortable ride. Whether it was our 13-hour drive to Lake Norman or the 584 miles we drove to Lake Chickamauga, it has been great.”
If you are a current or future collegiate angler using a Toyota tow vehicle to drive to your tournaments, you’re leaving money on the table if you aren’t registered for Bonus Bucks. Follow this link to get yourself registered for FREE: https://www.toyotatrucksbonusbucks.com/college/registration or give (918) 742-6424 a call and ask for Kendell or Chip.
Cole Sands and Conner Dimauro took the lead at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Championship with a 24-pound limit that included a 7 pound 15 ounce Chickamauga green piggy.
Sands already has two major college victories to his credit on “The Chick” – so his success Thursday is no great surprise, but his decision to fish from a smaller, slower, aluminum boat compared to his competitors, is worthy of an eyebrow raise.
Add the fact he’s just 22, and already working on a Masters in Business Administration degree, and Cole Sands quickly becomes a long tall lanky version of everything that is mega-impressive about college bass fishing.
“The fact Cole chose to self-report a rules violation back in late April on Day 2 at Bull Shoals to surrender his Day 1 lead, says everything you need to know about the character of Cole Sands,” says Hank Weldon, Director of College B.A.S.S. “He represents himself and college bass fishing in exactly the way we hope every angler will,” adds Weldon.
Local hard-core anglers around “The Chick” speak highly of Sands too, including BassQuest YouTube channel founder, Caleb Bell. “The crazy thing about Cole and his brother Corbin is how fast they locate fish. They’re absolutely among the most naturally gifted anglers I’ve ever known, and they’re great Christian guys on top of being incredible anglers,” says Bell.
By all accounts Sands seems as exceptional as the boat he and partner Conner Dimauro used to take the tournament lead. It’s an 18-foot aluminum Tracker with a 150 HP outboard that runs at least 10 mph slower than most of the boats in the field, but Sands says running a smaller ‘tin’ boat has several advantages. “You get more boat for your money when you buy aluminum, plus you get better fuel economy, and you’re less recognizable when you’re out there on your best fishing spots,” he grins.
That’s pretty mature logic for a guy just 22 years of age, who actually struggled to appreciate Tennessee at age 10 when his family moved here from his Alaska birthplace, mostly because it didn’t feel nearly as wild and free as The Last Frontier vibe of America’s 49th state. “I was pretty frustrated at first, but then I got involved in a junior bass fishing club, and it literally changed my life,” Sands says gratefully.
Sands admits he’s sharply focused on being a professional angler someday, but only after finishing his education at Bryan College on the shores of Lake Chickamauga. “I love college fishing. I love the team format and the teamwork. And I can work as a graduate assistant and get my MBA for free, so it only makes sense to enjoy the next several months here, before trying to fish for a living,” he concludes.
Faith, family, academics, and a superior talent for catching bass. That’s the mighty impressive young life of the tall, lanky Bryan College angler in the aluminum boat, who by all accounts may very well be one of competitive bass fishing’s next big things.