March 25, 2013 by Gary Mortenson
(Editor's note: Leading up to the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship - slated for April 19-21 on Beaver Lake in Rodgers, Ark. - CollegeFishing.com will publish weekly, in-depth features stories of each of the 25 national championship team qualifiers. At stake in the tournament is a first-place prize package that includes $30,000 in cash, a brand new, Ranger Z-117 bass boat and an automatic berth in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup.)Q&A CollegeFishing.com: How were you introduced to fishing? Mike Cornell: Growing up in the Okeechobee area, there was such a heavy emphasis on fishing that the whole sport just kind of came naturally to me. Kyle Monti: My grandfather Ray Alston and my father John Monti had me out on Lake Okeechobee at the age of two when I caught my first bass. I would also fish in local sugarcane field canals with my dad when I couldn't get onto the lake. At age 11, I started fishing tournaments with "Big O" Teen Anglers, Inc., and have since moved on to fish Walmart BFL, FLW College Fishing, EverStart and FLW Tour events. CollegeFishing.com: What style/method of fishing are you most comfortable with? Mike Cornell: I am the most comfortable flipping in dense, matted vegetation. But oddly enough, I am extremely comfortable fishing deep, offshore structure as well. Kyle Monti: I am most comfortable flipping and pitching into heavy cover, but I do have a lot of confidence fishing crankbaits of all shapes and sizes along with a shaky head. CollegeFishing.com: What did it feel like to qualify for the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship? How do you plan to prepare for the big event? Mike Cornell: Qualifying for nationals is unlike any experience I have ever had and it is a feeling that I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life. As far as preparation goes, we have been doing as much online research as possible. Hopefully, we'll get some valuable pre-fishing time on the lake as well. Kyle Monti: It has been a true blessing qualifying for the National Championship even though most of the other teams haven't even heard of us. I plan on driving up to practice for two weeks before the cutoff. I am a firm believer in hard work and dedication, so I will be on the water from daylight to dark every day of my practice. CollegeFishing.com: Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn't know. Mike Cornell: I do boat restoration on the side and there is very little on a Ranger boat that I cannot completely restore or fix. Kyle Monti: In grade school all the kids would talk about wanting to become police officers and fire fighters. And I would get laughed at every time when I said I wanted to be a professional fisherman.