October 5, 2012 by Kyle Wood
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. - As a front moved passed through Arkansas bringing rain and cooler temperatures to Lake Dardanelle, it also brought better fishing. The second day of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Championship saw better bags of fish and plenty of movement on the leader board.
After sitting in third place after day one, Angelo State's Ethan George and Josh Seale hauled in the second biggest bag of the tournament - 16 pounds even - to boost them into the lead with a total weight of 28-8. They now sit with merely a 3-ounce lead to start the final day of competition.
After starting the week with trim issues on their outboard, George and Seale could only practice the water close to the ramp. They managed to find a few areas that they thought would produce some fish and knew they would have to stick with it.
"Today started out fast like it has every other day," said George. "We went straight to our spot and were fishing by 7:05 a.m. We had our limit by 8 a.m. and didn't cull after that. The first five fish we caught were the ones we weighed."
Angelo State has been throwing a swimbait in anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet of water. Each angler said that out of the five rods they are allowed to use, four of them are rigged with a swimbait. It is their primary weapon and they do not put it down all day.
"We aren't catching a lot of fish, we just catch what we need then get out of there," Seale said. "Our one spot has been reloading with baitfish and the bass have stayed there so we just need to do our best. We don't have anywhere else to run so all we can do is fish our fish. After the week we've had, we are just thankful to be in this position."
With cooler weather predicted to greet the anglers on Saturday, Angelo State isn't sure how it will make their fish react. They plan to fish their main area and see what happens.
Stephen F. Austin leaps to second
Robert `Blaze' Platt and Kyle Turner of Stephen F. Austin sat in seventh place after day one with an 11-pound, 3-ounce limit. Today, with help from the largest bag of the tournament so far, Platt and Turner whacked 17-2 on Lake Dardanelle to boost them into the second spot with 28-5 total.
"These fish we actually found in prepractice," said Blaze. "We tried to find them on Wednesday, which we did, but they just weren't the same size. We caught our 11 pounds out of there yesterday, but knew the quality of fish was still in there so we had to look for them today.
"The area we found is huge," Blaze continued. "We fished a 150-yard stretch of bank and caught our limit and culled three times. Then we moved to the other side, but didn't catch anything so we went back over to stretch we started on. We culled four more times off of that and left our fish biting. We had our limit by around 10 a.m. or so."
After the duo had their limit they went looking for new water but were unable to find anything productive.
The team was reluctant to give away what they are throwing, though they did mention a few were caught on a square-billed crankbait. Blaze and Turner are focusing mainly on 5 to 10 feet of water.
"Tomorrow is definitely going to be tougher," Blaze said. "But we will probably live and die in our main area since we know the right fish are there."
Lamar University drops to third
After coming out strong on day one with a 15-pound, 12-ounce limit, Danny Iles and Justin Royal of Lamar University slipped a bit today. Their day-two bag of 12-5 for four fish was enough to drop them into third with 28-1 as a total, yet they only sit 7 ounces out of the lead.
"We knew going into today that it would be slower," said Iles. "We still got the bites, we just didn't execute.
"Our spot still has enough fish around we think, and we are fortunate that they are the right quality to maybe win this thing. But we just need to execute and hope the weather doesn't mess things up," Iles continued. "It is a hero or zero thing."
Lamar University has two different areas that they have been fishing. One is located close to the ramp, the other being about 20 to 25 miles up the river. Iles and Royal have one-main bait they are using, but changing colors throughout the day. Today, however, they ran out of their best color and say that it should be interesting tomorrow to see if they can catch fish on something else.
Iles says that if there is sun they have been getting bites every 20 minutes, but if it's cloudy then the bites come about every hour or more. It will be interesting to see what the weather brings for Lamar University tomorrow.
University of Lousiana-Monroe moves to fourth
Paul Clark and Brett Preuett of the University of Louisiana-Monroe climbed up slightly from fifth with a day-two limit of 15 pounds, 15 ounces. That brings their total limit to 27-7, keeping them in striking distance of the top.
Clark and Preuett have been keying in on around ten different stretches of grass. They did the same thing as yesterday, except today they put the better bites in the boat.
"We lost several good fish yesterday," Clark stated. "Today we were able to put them in the boat. We catch a lot of fish - probably 40 or 50 - and sooner or later you'll catch a good one."
Clark noted that as the day progressed on day two they didn't get many bites, but the quality did increase. They expect the bite to shut down tomorrow with the cooler weather and plan to slow down their presentation to match that.
LSU-Shreveport holds on to make the cut
Being one of the most consistent teams so far is Joseph Landry and Gavin Havard of LSU-Shreveport who brought in 13 pounds, 14 ounces on day one to take the second spot. They followed that up with a 12-15 limit today, giving them 26-13 for a two-day total.
"Today was a good day," Landry said. "Our fish turn off around 11 a.m., so we knew we had to catch them early. We had our limit before that cold front came in and it just made it tough. We went looking for new water because we knew we were going to have to adjust if we made it to Saturday."
"We have one spot for big fish and multiple places we can catch fish," Havard added. "We hammered our areas pretty hard just to make the top five. We just need to adapt to the conditions."
LSU-Shreveport has been fishing shallow drops with scattered grass on them. They are also sticking close to the ramp, making a run that takes a couple minutes.
"We are going to do the same thing tomorrow morning," said Landry. "We know things are going to change and we know that there are fish around. If we are going to catch a good bag, it needs to be before 10 or 11 a.m."
The top five teams will take off from Lake Dardanelle State Park located at 100 State Park Drive in Russellville, Ark., at 7 a.m. on Saturday. The final weigh-in will be at Walmart located at 2409 E. Main St. in Russellville beginning at 4 p.m., with the FLW Expo starting at noon.