UNITY (AP) – A $56,800 college education was swimming around Lake Winnecook on Sunday, but 106 eager students were unable to reel it in.

Unity College was hosting its first-ever Fishing for Scholarships contest, in which students spent seven hours on the water angling for 100 specially tagged fish.

Despite a host of prizes, including one award of tuition for four years, only two tagged fish were caught. Mike Bradford caught both fish, earning him a free sea kayaking tour and a $50 tuition voucher.

Earlier this month, officials from the state Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Department electronically stunned, captured and tagged 100 largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, pickerel and crappie.

Kathy Jo King, spokeswoman for the small college known for its environmental programs, said several fish were caught by local residents during the week and released. But most were hook-shy on Sunday.

Even though the big prize eluded hooks, students, their families and friends seemed to judge the event a success.

Joe Saltalamachia, the college’s assistant admissions director who came up with the event, counted about 80 canoes, kayaks, rowboats and even rubber rafts.

Glenn Lucas, 17, an incoming freshman from Bridgewater, N.H., relied on his father to paddle a cedar-strip canoe the two built.

By midmorning, Lucas had caught a bass, a yellow perch and a shiner, but none bore tags. Using a lure designed to mimic a wounded fish and studying a map of the lake’s depths, Lucas appeared to be serious about fishing.

But he said he wouldn’t be disappointed if he didn’t catch a tagged fish. “Just Dad will be disappointed,” his father joked.

AP-ES-07-28-03 0215EDT

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