UNC Charlotte’s bass-fishing team defended its “home waters” in a winning way last week, taking home the national championship in the Bassmaster College Series tournament on Lake Chatuge, a 7,500-acre reservoir along the North Carolina-Georgia border.

Jake Whitaker and Andrew Helms caught 11 pounds, 12 ounces the first day, then 12-11 the second day and closed out their competition with their biggest catch, 14-2, on Saturday’s final day of competition. Their three-day total of 38-9 gave them a half-pound margin of victory over Zach Parker and Matt Roberts of Bethel University, who closed with 15-13.

Chatuge fished exactly the way Whitaker and Helms expected it to.

“It’s tough fishing out here,” said Whitaker, who grew up two hours from Chatuge and has fished it multiple times. “The way to do it is to commit to getting big bites, even if you don’t get very many.”

“I’ve never worked harder in my life. We should have more, but I lost two 3-pounders.”

Behind Charlotte and Bethel, Brett Preuett and Jackson Blackett of Louisiana-Monroe were third with 32-12, Robert Giarla and Bentley Manning of Tennessee Tech were fourth with 26-0, and Tanner Cooper and Memo Nunez of New Mexico State were fifth with 25-8.

East Carolina’s team of Michael Corbishley and Ronnie Moore finished 12th with a two-day total of 18 pounds, but missed the cut to the final five. Austin Neary and Zachary Hicks of Western Carolina were 24th in the field of 81 teams with 14-13.