Final exam

The 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship is under way.

ROGERS, Ark. - Although conditions were far from ideal, the top-25 collegiate teams in the nation departed Prairie Creek marina shortly after 7 a.m. Friday morning with one goal in mind - to survive three days of grueling competition while walking away with the most prestigious title in all of college fishing. However, it won't be easy. While the field is undoubted one of the strongest since the inception of FLW College Fishing in 2009, today's weather conditions are really going to put a strain on the field. Although collegiate anglers were just starting to get accustomed to the nice, seasonal temps that most saw upon their arrival into the northwest Arkansas area a few days prior, a recent cold front that is currently sweeping across the nation has radically changed the dynamics of the competition - at least for today. "A few days ago it was 80 degrees," said Indiana University teammate Steven Bressler of Fremont, Ind. "It was gorgeous. But today, obviously the weather is a lot different." National Championship contenders were bundled from head to toe during opening-round takeoff.With temps hovering around the 30-degree mark and winds expected to pick up into the low 20-mph range, anglers undoubtedly will have to adapt on the fly. As conventional wisdom goes, you can't win the tournament on the first day of competition, but you can certainly lose it. And that is particular true of today's crucial round of tournament action. "I'm kind of used to these tougher fishing conditions growing up on the Ohio River. For me, this weather is normal" said fellow Indiana University teammate Dustin Vaal of Saint Meinrad, Ind. "But for the California guys and the guys down South, I'm not sure they're as used to this. And the wind is really going to make things tough for those sight-fishing guys." Some recent flooding and water temperatures in the mid- to high-50s could also cause some reevaluation of the field on how to best attack Beaver Lake during today's competition. "Right before this front came in, I think the fish were really set up to start bedding," said Vaal. "But now they've backed off a bit. I think you're going to see those fish holding to the first breaks and first set of docks - anything they can hold on to until the weather changes and they can start to move up to spawn. And on a day like this, the largemouth bass are going to more affected by this type of weather than (smallmouth and spotted bass)," Vaal continued. "So that could make a difference as well." That being said, Vaal and Bressler have a carefully crafted game plan for the next three days. "Our goal is to catch 11 to 13 pounds a day," said Vaal. "We're going to try and get a 5-pound largemouth and then fill out our limit - whether that's with spotted bass or more largemouths. If we can do that, I'd feel pretty good. But we're also gong to have to bust one really good limit in the 15-pound range one of these days to win it. For us, it's going to be all about water depth and weather conditions. Right now there has been some flooding and the water is muddied up in places. But we've found some success where the clear water meets the muddy water. And there are plenty of shallow areas that are right next to really steep drop-offs and those areas could be key as well." The nice thing about Beaver Lake is that there are plenty of ways to fish it. As such, anglers can usually fish to their strengths on the famed Arkansas waterway. Anglers depart Prairie Creek marina during the start of the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship."We're going to be throwing spinnerbaits, Alabama rigs and jigs," said Vaal. "We'll also use a Mojo rig, which is like a Carolina rig only lighter. If the fishing gets tough, we'll throw some Shaky Heads. And if it really gets tough, you can always rely on a wacky-rigged worm." For the Indiana crew, the national championship represents the culmination of years of hard work. And they'd like nothing more than to see it pay off after Sunday's final weigh-in. "I've made it to the national championship four times now," said Vaal. "(Bressler) has made it two years. So it's just an amazing experience for us. I feel like my entire college fishing career couldn't have gone better for us. It's more than anything I could have asked for." "This is the last time we'll be fishing together as a team," said Bressler. "So it's exciting. We really want to do well." Vaal also argued that his college fishing experience has served as sort of a tournament fishing boot camp that will help propel his career down the road. "FLW College Fishing has been a huge stepping stone for me," said Vaal. "It's really going to help my career. I've just learned so much." But right now, the team is focused on nothing more than winning the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship title. And undoubtedly, it will be their most difficult task to date. "I think this is the toughest national championship field we've ever had," said Vaal. "You're really going to be seeing the best of the best this week. It should be a fantastic tournament." Tournament info and logistics Auburn University brought out some special fans to cheer on the team during opening takeoff.The entire 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship field will compete for two days with the top-five college teams advancing to the third and final day of competition based on their overall accumulated weight. Teams are permitted to bring as many as five fish to the scales during each weigh-in. After the conclusion of Sunday's weigh-in, the tournament title will be awarded to the college team that has recorded the most combined weight over all three days of competition. The national championship awards the top team a $30,000 prize package, including a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower engine and an entry into the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The team member fishing as a pro in the Forrest Wood Cup also receives the use of a wrapped Ranger Boat and Chevy tow vehicle. Daily takeoffs for the national championship will take place at 7 a.m. each morning at Prairie Creek Park, located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers, Ark. Weigh-ins will be at 4 p.m. at Walmart, located at 2110 W. Walnut Street in Rogers, Ark. FLW also will be hosting the College Fishing Expo April 19 to 21. Expo activities include a sports zone, tailgate games, sponsor giveaways and a Ranger boat simulator. The Expo runs from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The Expo will take place at Walmart, located at 2110 W. Walnut Street in Rogers, Ark. Meet the contenders The following is the complete list of the 25 college teams vying for this year's national championship title: 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship competitors get ready for the opening day of tournament action on Beaver Lake.Angelo State University - Ethan George, San Angelo, Texas, and Josh Seale, Breckenridge, Texas. Arizona State University - Jason Karseboom, Tempe, Ariz., and Bobby Fletcher, Gilbert, Ariz. Auburn University - Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., and Shane Powell, Dothan, Ala. California State University-Long Beach - Justin Gangel, Valley Center, Calif., and Alex Cox, Long Beach, Calif. Chico State University - Anthony Dayton, Walnut Creek, Calif., and Nick Carrico, Oroville, Calif. Eastern Kentucky - Kyle Raymer, Brandenburg, Ky., and John Smith, Harlan, Ky. Fairmont State University - Wil Dieffenbauch, Hundred, W.V., and Ryan Radcliff, Parkersburg, W.V. Georgetown College - Mike Huff and Nick Huff, both of Corbin, Ky. Indian River State College - Kyle Monti and Mike Cornell, both of Okeechobee, Fla. Indiana University - Dustin Vaal, Saint Meinrad, Ind., and Steven Bressler, Fremont, Ind. Lamar University - Danny Iles, Hemphill, Texas, and Justin Royal, Evadale, Texas Louisiana State University-Shreveport - Joseph Landry, West Monroe, La., and Gavin Havard, Haughton, La. Oregon State University - Zach Macdonald, Willits, Calif., and Ryan Sparks, Haines, Alaska Purdue University - Nicholas Schuetz, Loogootee, Ind., and Elliott Myers, Anderson, Ind. Ramapo College - Jeffrey Voss, Secaucus, N.J., and Joseph Zapf, Whippany, N.J. State University of New York-Plattsburgh - Christopher Benninger, Grand Island, N.Y., and Richard Lee, Port Kent, N.Y. Stephen F. Austin - Blaze Platt, Kennedale, Texas, and Kyle Turner, Tyler, Texas University Of Alabama - Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., and Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala. University of California-Santa Cruz - Sam Sayad, Carmel Valley, Calif., and Chris Rhoden, Pearblossom, Calif. University of Central Florida - Miles Burghoff, Orlando, Fla., and Casey O'Donnell, Bradenton, Fla. University Of Louisiana-Monroe - Paul Clark, Monroe, La., and Brett Preuett, Pineville, La. University of North Carolina-Charlotte - Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Waters, Denver, N.C. Virginia Tech - Andrew Jackson, Abingdon, Va., and Patrick Snellings, Fredericksburg, Va. Virginia Tech - Jody White, Shaftsbury, Vt., and David Bryant, Covington, Va. Winona State University - Cade Laufenberg, La Crosse, Wis., and Sam Schollmeier, Rochester, Minn. How they got here Four regular-season events were held in each conference - Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western. The top five teams in each qualifying event advanced to one of five televised three-day FLW College Fishing Conference Championships. The top five teams from each conference championship advanced to this year's national championship, and the winner of the national championship will qualify for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., and will offer the collegiate anglers the opportunity to compete for a top award of $500,000. FLW College Fishing is free to enter and FLW provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and be a member of a fishing club recognized by their college or university. Bass-fishing fans take note UCF fishing fans were out in force during open takeoff at the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship on Beaver Lake.Want to watch the inaugural national championship weigh-in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 4 p.m. Central time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in. Coverage of the FLW College Fishing National Championship, hosted by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs June 9 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide. Vital statistics: Sunrise: 6:37 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 31 degrees Expected high temperature: 55 degrees Water temperature: 57-61 degrees Wind: From the west-northwest from 12-19 mph Humidity: 50 percent Day's outlook: Mostly sunny with increasing winds throughout the day. Related links: Meet the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship teams and other related college fishing news

Tags: morning-story 

/news/2015-06-25-a-capital-challenge

A Capital Challenge

Rivers can be rollercoasters, and the Potomac River might be about to give the anglers fishing the Walmart FLW Tour finale a tough ride. Two nasty storm systems have blown through in the last few days. According to FLW Tour pro and local Michael Hall, those could have been the two worst things to happen leading up to the tournament. “After 30 years of fishing here, I know storms impact the bass on this river,” says Hall. “Those storms have certainly done that. The wind alone would have done it this week.” READ MORE »

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The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

Practice day Wednesday saw temperatures in the high 80s, with more sultry weather on tap for today. Like many others, Schroeder spent most of the day riding around and checking spots with his electronics. Though undoubtedly fish will be caught from the miles of weedbeds in the lower end of the lake below Paris Landing, he figures it will be a ledge bite that wins. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-11-deep-or-shallow-at-chickamauga-

Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week. In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-04-northern-rayovacs-kick-off-on-the-james

Northern Rayovacs Kick Off on the James

Ostensibly, the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Mercury that began this morning is taking place on the James River, but much of the fishing focus will be centered on the Chickahominy River – or Chick, as it’s affectionately known locally. “This tournament is typically won out of the Chick,” says North Carolina pro Jamey Caldwell of the James River tributary. “There are some great bags coming out of the [James] river right now, but I just feel that those big fish are a little more sporadic. I’m going to hang out in the Chick and hope for the best.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-seminole-summer

Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-14-shallow-deep-and-in-between-at-eufaula

Shallow, Deep and in Between at Eufaula

A couple of weeks ago Eufaula was high and off-color, and the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State that begins this morning was shaping up to be a shallow-water showdown. The lake has fallen by a couple of inches since then, however, and now the odds are even that both inshore and offshore patterns will be in play. In fact, one Eufaula expert who isn’t fishing the tournament expects it will take a mixture of patterns to make it to Sunday’s championship round and claim the $100,000 that goes to the winner. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-anything-goes-at-the-cal-delta

Anything Goes at the Cal Delta

There are 127 pros entered in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Ranger at the California Delta this week. If you asked them all what their baits or tactics are for the first day of competition today, you might get 127 different answers. At some fisheries that FLW’s tournament circuits visit, such varied and often vague responses from pros when they’re prompted for fishing info are the result of them attempting to stealthily hide their fishing patterns. That’s not exactly the case at this tournament. The fact is, the California Delta is one of the most vast and varied fisheries that hosts FLW events. It’s a collection of unique mini-fisheries all rolled into one, with dirty water, clean water, tons of vegetation and other factors tossed into the mix. It’s a tidal fishery, so the water levels and currents fluctuate throughout each day. And, of course, it’s spring in California, and because of the vastness of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and the delta system they feed, with its 1,000 miles of waterways, there are populations of bass in all stages of the spawn in their own little geographic areas. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-in-or-out-on-kentucky-lake

In or Out on Kentucky Lake

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/news/2015-04-30-texoma-tough-but-stabilizing

Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tricky-transition-at-beaver

Tricky Transition at Beaver

Though Beaver Lake is an annual stop for the Walmart FLW Tour, that doesn’t mean it is an easy lake to decipher. This year’s event, which is presented by Rayovac, is later into the spring than usual and is causing some major head scratching among the 154 pros in the field. There’s no doubt that some fish can be found on beds, however, they are mostly small. The consensus is that a lot of fish are stuck in limbo between the spawn and prespawn phase on this White River impoundment. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-weather-woes-greet-college-anglers

Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

It was supposed to be a shallow-water bassfest, with largemouths and spots roaming Lake Murray’s shoreline to feast on spawning blueback herring. That still might happen as the FLW College Fishing National Championship plays out the next three days here, but the fishing is more likely to be ad lib than follow any script. The dreary, damp weather that settled over the region Wednesday during the last day of practice is the culprit. Not only did it hamper the efforts of contestants looking for the last bedding fish of the season, but also those depending on a consistent blueback herring bite to gin up the action. Still, the consensus of opinion is that one pattern or the other will prevail, and settle the question of college bragging rights for the next year as well as send the winning team to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in August. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-swollen-rayburn-challenges-anglers

Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level. Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-front-and-center

Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-record-catch-for-record-college-field-

Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-guntersville-grab-bag

Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-toho-midday-report-day-2

Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-boom-or-bust-at-toho

Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-11-mighty-amistad-issues-a-challenge

Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-05-heating-up-on-havasu

Heating Up on Havasu

Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – Warming weather could provide the spark that is needed to ignite a big-time bite on Lake Havasu this week for the first event of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Western Division, which is presented by Mercury. Past FLW events on Havasu have been plagued by lower temperatures and strong winds that slowed the bite – fishing was good, but the anglers didn’t experience the lake’s full potential. The last few days on the Colorado River impoundment, however, have seen temperatures near 80 degrees with nearly no wind. As it stands now, the forecast for competition days is calling for more of the same, and many of the 152 pros in this tournament feel like that could open things up. READ MORE »