UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Keep it moving

Keep it moving
Unsafe water levels on the Red River prompted a change to Sibley Lake for the FLW National Guard College Fishing Texas Division Regional event.

NATCHITOCHES, La. - Unsafe water levels on the Red River prompted a change in venue for the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Texas Regional Championship, but the new site - Sibley Lake - promises plenty of opportunity for 20 collegiate teams.

With a diverse offering of creeks, coves, points, islands, brush and boat docks, Sibley will enable anglers to try a variety of tactics. Modest in size, this lake holds sufficient area for its competitive field and anglers will likely get bitten on whatever they care to throw.

Coming off their October 17 win at the final Texas Division event, Stephen F. Austin University's Ryan Watkins and Andrew Upshaw will be looking to capitalize on their momentum. Watkins said he expect traditional power fishing tactics to produce well with plastics also factoring into the equation.

"I think spinnerbaits and crankbaits can be a big factor in this tournament," He said. "A lot of people willAfter winning the final Texas Division event at Toledo Bend on October 17, Andrew Upshaw and Ryan Watkins hope to carry their momentum onto Sibley Lake. probably be throwing small Texas rigs."

Watkins doesn't anticipate parking on many spots today. "This lake is fishing small so there's going to be a lot of running and gunning. A lot of people are going to be trying to hit a lot of spots and trying to get as many casts as they can in the day. It's not going to be a lot of concentrated fishing."

The strategy of mobility works just fine for Jacob Heath and Kennedy Schwartzburg of Texas A&M. Paying homage to the surgical search skills of bass fishing legend Kevin Van Dam, Heath said: "We're going to run all over this lake and `KVD' it. We're going to try and run the gas out of this boat. I don't want to leave this tournament thinking that we didn't try any spots. I don't want to wonder `Maybe the fish were there.'

"Once we find the fish we're going to break it down and try to pattern them. We're going to try docks first and see if we can find which (ones are holding fish). I think this will be fun."

Texas A&M Corpus Christi teammates Jacob Heath and Kennedy Schwartsburg will start out with topwater baits and then refine their search with jigs.Heath and Swartzburg will start their morning with topwaters and then transition to jigs later in the day.

Damp grass at the Sibley Lake public boat ramp bespoke falling water. As Watkins noted, the receding lake will require daily adjustments.

"I think the water is up a foot or two (from normal pool), but it's dropping," he said. "It has dropped about a foot from when we were in here last week. You have to factor that into your plan. Tomorrow, it might drop another three to six inches and those fish are going to pull out as that water drops. You're going to have to follow the fish because they're going to be moving."

LSU's Logan Mount said he believes a game plan based on quantity, and then quality will be prudent. "The key today is to catch six fish (team limit) in a hurry and then try to catch that big fish. A kicker fish is going to win this tournament, I believe. A good number of people are going to have limitsLogan Mount of LSU will put much of his faith in a crankbait. and it's going to come down to a big fish. If someone catches a 5- or 6-pound fish, they're going to be sitting pretty. Even a 3-pound fish will be something good to have."

During his team's Toledo Bend victory, Watkins nabbed a 6-pound bass. Matching that on Sibley Lake will be a tall order, but not out of the question.

"That's definitely possible, especially with the caliber of fishermen we have out here," Watkins said. "It wouldn't surprise me to see some big sacks brought in. I think it's going to come down to who's in the right area at the right time. The team that gets those one or two really good bites is going to be right at the top of your leader board."

Tournament logistics

College anglers prep tackle and discuss strategy prior to takeoff at Sibley Lake.The top five FLW College Fishing teams from each of the four regular-season Texas Division tournaments gained automatic entry into the 2009 Texas Regional Championship at Northwestern State University. During the three-day regional event, 20 two-man collegiate angling teams will compete for a top award of $50,000, which includes a 177TR Ranger wrapped in school colors and powered by an Evinrude or Yamaha outboard engine.

Qualified teams include Angelo State, Baylor University, LSU, LSU-Shreveport, Lamar University, Northwestern State, Oklahoma State University, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Tarleton State, Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, University of Louisiana, University of North Texas and University of Texas.

Daily takeoffs are at 7 a.m. at the public boat ramp at 2019 Texas St. in Natchitoches, La. Daily weigh-ins are at 4 p.m. at Northwestern State University. The Reel Life Festival, which features the National Guard Warrior Challenge, will be held all three days of competition at the Prather Coliseum Parking Lot at Northwestern State University beginning at noon on Saturday, at 4 p.m. on Sunday and at 1 p.m. on Monday. On Saturday, the Battle of the Bands will be held at noon. An iPod Nano will be given away Saturday and Sunday, and a MacBook Air will be given away Monday.

The top five teams from each of the five National Guard regional championships (Western, Central, Northern, Texas and Southeast) will advance to the National Guard National Championship April 10-12, 2010, in Knoxville, Tenn. The winning team at the national championship will qualify for the prestigious 2010 Forrest Wood Cup.

Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:44 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 52 degrees
Expected high temperature: 81 degrees
Water temperature: 66 degrees
Wind: from the S at 6-8 mph
Max. Humidity: 81 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny to partly cloudy

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2009-11-14-texas-regional-championship 

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