Red Hawks’ Mackey, Hammond win MLF event on Harris Chain

Red Hawks’ Mackey, Hammond win MLF event on Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. — The Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing program made history this past weekend with its first-ever tournament win.

The Red Hawk duo of Will Hammond and Cabe Mackey outlasted a field of 233 boats to claim the Major League Fishing title at the Abu Garcia College Fishing event on The Harris Chain of Lakes.

"I am so proud of Will and Cabe," said Red Hawks bass fishing head coach Angela Mayo. "They practiced hard all week and came up with a spot that they felt could hold the winning fish. When they came to the weigh in, Will and Cabe thought they had 25 pounds, and a little over 23 pounds was leading, so we knew it would be close. When their weight was announced and they had just over 25 pounds, we were ecstatic."

With their win, Hammond and Mackey qualify to compete in the 2024 College Fishing National Championship — one of 27 teams to earn that honor after this past weekend's event.

Hammond credited the duo's success to choosing the right place to fish in the waters at the Harris Chain.

"We pulled up on our first spot, and we were scared to death that we weren't going to be the first ones there," Hammond said. "We pulled up, made one cast and caught a big fish. From there, it got better. We culled a few times. We caught a six pounder. That was just the day that we dream about. I couldn't have dreamed of that going any better."

Mackey knew that Hammond and himself were in good shape after their six-pound catch, but didn't know what would happen until they finally reached the scales.

"When it all fell into place, it was really cool," Mackey said. "I've been in that position before so I knew anything could happen, but to do this with Will in Florida for our first win is something I'll never forget."

Hammond and Mackey led the way for the Red Hawks in three top-100 finishes, which also included the team of Jacob Oliver and Wes Smith in 65th place with 11 pounds, 11 ounces of bass.

The CVCC duo of Zeb Roberts and Cole Weaver also placed inside the top 100 boats, finishing in 72nd place with 11 pounds, six ounces of bass caught.

Other finishes by Red Hawk anglers at the event included Hunter Keller and Chase Martin in 128th place (eight pounds), Justin Eggers and Grant Harris in 146th place (seven pounds, six ounces), Dalton Eury and Brendan Vinton in 157th place (six pounds, 15 ounces) and the father-son duo of Thomas and Lane Bailey in 171st place (five pounds, 15 ounces).

Mayo said this past week's performances are the culmination of the hard work her Red Hawk anglers have put in since the program's inception in 2019.

"We have built a strong fishing program at CVCC, and our anglers' achievements include several top-10 finishes and a second-place finish at Guntersville last year. Finally getting this win feels good," she said. "Our anglers are working well together as a team, sharing information nightly and their efforts paid off with this win."

The Red Hawks compete in their second Florida tournament in two weeks this Thursday and Friday at the 2023 Strike King Bassmaster College Series at Harris Chain. A field of 275 boats will compete in the event.