Sevier County's Bentley Manning excels on the water
Bentley Manning figured he’d end up playing a more traditional sport — maybe basketball or football — when he made it to college.
Instead, the Sevier County graduate has found success on the water as a college fisherman.
“It’s just, being out there is my favorite part,” Manning said. “I love to fish. Where I’m so competitive, you put those two together and you get the perfect storm.”
Manning, representing Tennessee Tech along with teammate Robert Giarla, finished fourth last week at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Chatuge Reservoir in Young Harris, Ga. Manning then competed in the Classic bracket, a individual tournament that matches the top eight anglers in a match-play format. He made it to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Brett Preuett of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
“I’m pleased (with the results) by far,” Manning said. “We were blessed with that. I know we could’ve done a lot better but it’s just the way fishing goes sometimes. I’ll definitely be back next year to give them another run for their money.”
Manning said the tournament last week in Georgia was the highest level of collegiate fishing. He practiced with Giarla for three days and was confident entering the three-day tournament. He said the lake was a little confusing, with fish biting anywhere from 0 to 30 feet of water. After reeling in 23 pounds on the first day of practice, things seemed to get tougher.
“After a while the fish got used to us and we didn’t adjust to them well,” he said. “We could not make them bite.”
Manning will be a junior at Tennessee Tech this fall studying Fisheries Wildlife. He transferred from Lincoln Memorial University following his freshman year and fished collegiately for the first time this past season.
Manning said he’s always enjoyed fishing but didn’t enter any tournaments until he was about 17. He said it’s the competitive aspect he loves.
“I kept fishing and it’s brought me to this,” he said. “I couldn’t be any more blessed.”