UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Lamar seeks the sweep

Leading the field since day one, Lamar University's Danny Iles and Matt Morrison will throw crankbaits and spinnerbaits in the final round.

NACAGDOCHES, Texas - A "big lead" is only big when it exceeds the competition's realistic chances of making up ground. No one knows that better than Danny Iles and Matt Morrison of Lamar University - the top team going into the final day of the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Texas Regional Championship on Lake Sam Rayburn.

Iles and Morrison have lead since day one with 17-14 in the opening round and the tournament's biggest catch - 21 even - on day two. Their two day total of 38-14 gives them a 6-pound, 2-ounce lead over second place University of Texas-Tyler's Matthew McClellan and Tyler Fisher.

Normally, such a margin would foster a sense of measured security, but Iles won't hear any of that.Lamar University Rayburn has a reputation for cranking out big fish and this tournament has already seen a bunch of them. Several anglers have weighed 4- to 5-pound bass and a couple have hoisted 7- and 8-pounders on the weigh-in stage.

"I'm not comfortable with a 6-pound lead," Iles said. "That's on cast out here. We can't take any lead for granted on this lake and with this group of guys. We have to go out and put our foot down on the gas pedal."

The Lamar anglers have relied mostly on Strike King Series 6XD crankbaits and Falcon spinnerbaits over the past two days. They're working the edges of hydrilla beds and lily pads. At the dock, Iles Texas-rigged a 10-inch ribbontail worm (redbug) for working inside the grass.

They may also throw weedless Texas-rigged stick worms. This was their primary tactic from practice, but high winds on day one prevented them from making effective presentations. Yesterday's wind decreased to about 5-7 mph and today will see even less. That may actually work against anglers who find moderate winds stimulating the fish, while allowing proper boat control and casting.

"We'll probably have to slow down and grind it out and hope we get enough good bites," Iles said. "Hopefully, we'll get some bites on the spinnerbait early, but if not, we'll throw plastics and a crankbait all day."

Second place University of Texas-TylerMorrison found two 5-pounders on day one and another on day two. If they can lockup a solid limit early and leave themselves plenty of time to go hog-hunting, they stand a good chance of holding their position for a wire-to-wire win.

McClellan and Fisher sacked up 20-12 on day two and rose from eighth place to second with a total weight of 32-12. They found most of their fish by slinging Rat-L-Traps across wind-swept points with grass.

"I think we're going to do the same thing (today)," Fisher said. "We've been doing that for two days. We're just getting lucky and running into 5-pounders on the Trap. If we get lucky and find a couple more, we'll be alright."

Representing the hometown school, Stephen F. Austin's Blaze Platt and Ryan Watkins sit in third with 30-14. They started strong with a second place effort of 17-2 on day one, but dropped to third on day two with 13-12.

Platt and Watkins will commit most of their day to throwing frogs in lily pads. They fished deep in theHometown anglers Ryan Watkins and Blaze Platt will represent Stephen F. Austin in the final round. vegetation for part of day one and most of day two. Both have experienced close encounters with the kind of huge fish that could easily propel them to the top, but pad fishing can be a frustrating game as the big fish win more often than the fishermen.

Watkins said there'll be no pressure on the SFA boat today, but both anglers know the Rayburn's big-fish potential could swing in their favor at any moment.

"We had a little lighter bag (yesterday), but we had the same bites (as day one)," he said. "We had a couple more 6- to 7-pound bites and it's unfortunate that they came off. But I feel like we're both good enough that if you give us three days at it, sooner or later, we're going to hook into them and get them in the boat."

In fourth place with 28-2, Texas A&M's Paul Manley and Andrew Shafer bring the experience of winning the 2009 Texas Regional. They'll continue working grassy edges and targeting contour points. Manley will throw a swim jig, while Shafer throws a chatterbait.

A swim jig and a chatterbait will be the plan for Texas A&MLSU Shreveport's Zach Caudle and Joe Landry round out the top-five with 27-0. They reached the final round thanks to the 8-pounder that Caudle caught on a Strike King Redeye Shad on day two.

"It just changed the way we fished," Caudle said. "Yesterday, we were looking for a limit and we caught that big one and said `Oh man, we have a shot.' Today, we're looking for the same thing - one big bite and a limit."

Tournament logistics

The top five FLW College Fishing teams from each of the four regular-season Texas Division tournaments gained automatic entry into the 2010 Texas Regional Championship at Stephen F. Austin State University. During the three-day regional event, 20 two-man collegiate angling teams will compete for a top award of $50,000 to be split evenly between the school and its bass fishing club.

The top five teams from each regional advance to the national championship where the first-place team will win $100,000 with $50,000 of that for their school and $25,000 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat for their fishing club. The winning team at the national championship will qualify for the prestigious 2010 Forrest Wood Cup.

FLW Outdoors 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 members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.

Weigh-ins will be held at Stephen F. Austin State University - Homer Bryce Stadium. Saturday's finalLSU Shreveport weigh-in will begin at 5 p.m. and are open to the public.

Stephen F. Austin State University will also be hosting a College Fishing Festival throughout the three-day tournament. Students and fishing fans alike will be treated to live music, the National Guard Warrior Challenge, a Ranger Boat simulator, tailgate games, a sports zone along with contests for cash and several prize giveaways. The festival will take place at Stephen F. Austin State University - Homer Bryce Stadium from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.

A National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament will also be held Saturday. Takeoff will be at 8 a.m. at Cassels-Boykin Park and weigh-in will be at 1:30 p.m. at Homer Bryce Stadium.

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

Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 7:33 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 39 degrees
Expected high temperature: 76 degrees
Water temperature: 75 degrees
Wind: from the SSW at 5-7 mph
Max. Humidity: 61 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2010-10-28-texas-regional-sam-rayburn 

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