Local angler represents UA againBy Stephen Dawkins Published 8:46pm Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Dustin Connell came up just short of his dream to compete in the Bassmasters Classic, but the Clanton native still has a bright fishing future.
Connell and his teammate from the University of Alabama fishing team, Logan Johnson of Jasper, recently finished fourth in the College BASS National Championship, which was held beginning July 25 on several lakes near Little Rock, Ark.
The finish was good enough for the two UA anglers to advance as individuals to a bracket style tournament. Connell and Johnson both won their first match. In the second round, they faced off against brothers Matt and Jordan Lee of Auburn University.
The Lee brothers eliminated the UA anglers. In the final, Matt Lee defeated Jordan Lee to earn a berth in the Bassmaster Classic, the sport’s ultimate event.
“I’m disappointed about it, but it was a good opportunity,” Connell said. “I got to meet a lot of people. We’re all good buddies, the Alabama guys and the Auburn guys. They’re good guys.”
Connell has now competed in the past three college national championships. He said this year was the toughest.
“It was the worst week of fishing ever because it was so hot,” he said about the temperature that climbed near 110 degrees.
Connell thanked all his friends and family from back home that sent messages of encouragement during the event.
“There’s no telling how many people from Clanton called me,” he said. “I appreciate all the support.”
Connell plans to graduate in December with a degree in marketing that he hopes will help him pursue his fishing career.
“Fishing is all about marketing. I definitely plan on, after graduating, trying to go to the next level,” said the three-time UA Angler of the Year. “I put so much time into fishing. It’s a grind. To be good and be able to make money, you’ve got to make sacrifices.”
Next, though, is an FLW tour event in September at Lake Wiley in South Carolina. Connell said the grand prize is $50,000.
The national championship event will re-air on ESPNU on Aug. 19.