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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A vision obscured

Foggy conditions greeted anglers at the day-one launch on Sayers Lake.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The fog draping Sayers Lake wasn't thick enough to delay the day-one takeoff for the National Guard FLW College Fishing Northern Regional Championship, but the chilly mist brought sufficient obscurity to make some of the lake's features unclear - much like the fishing forecast.

The Northern Division's top 20 teams take to the water with the local bass in that often perplexing transitional phase from summer to fall patterns. Fish will be scattered, and it's unlikely that any one bait or technique will prove dominant.

Sayers is not a huge lake; in fact, you can shout from shore to shore in most areas. But with only 20 teams plying its waters, the lake's assortment of wood, bridge pilings, riprap and deep rocks should offer plenty of opportunity for the open-minded.

Fairmont State's Will Diffenbauch and Brent Dodril, who won the regular-season event on LakeFairmont State Champlain, are cool with the uncertainty. Truthfully, Diffenbauch said he likes the way this one's shaping up.

"This is our kind of fishing," Diffenbauch said. "Back home (in Fairmont, W.Va.), we have some tough bodies of water to fish and we're just used to not catching many a day.

"We're just going to junk-fish all day. We have spots from 2 feet of water out to 30 feet of water. It's going to be a tough tournament to try and scratch out five. Whatever it takes, we can do anything from shallow to deep."

Dodril said he and his partner will focus most of their attention on four to five offshore areas in 12 to 18 feet where they hope to find quality fish: "We're hoping to get one or two keepers off each of those and be able to pick off a limit. Plastics, jerkbaits and crankbaits are what we'll be sticking with most of the day.

Justin Brouillard and Kyle Sabourin push away from the bank in preparation for the day-one takeoff."We're actually going to start up on the bank and try to get one or two fish early. And then the rest of the day, from 10 o'clock on, we're going to be out in that offshore stuff."

At this level of competition, there really are not that many secrets, but Dodril does have a legitimate secret weapon in his customized Rapala crankbait. Hand-painted in a crawfish pattern, this bait will likely see plenty of action today.

Also bagging a regular-season win - theirs at Lake Erie - N.C. State's Casey Johnson and Josh Hooks qualified for the regional event.

"We're going to fish long and fish hard," Johnson said. "Mainly, our game plan is junk-fishing, since we didn't have any tournament practice. We're going to start off with topwaters first thing in the morning and just kind of work it slowly all day. If we get bit shallow, we're going to stay shallow, or we might go deep if it dies off. It's mostly big rock piles and ditches we're fishing, so maybe there'll be some fish there."

Hooks noted that "fishing clean" (making no errors) would be essential to consistency: "Losing fish in aN.C. State tournament like this is just something you can't do. If you have an opportunity to boat a fish, I think boating that fish is the most important thing."

Also important, he said, will a measured approach. Hooks and Johnson have two main stretches of bank that they'll target, and they'll be in no rush to finish each area.

"Everybody blows down their banks and fishes them fast," he said. "We're just going to sit there and milk them. We're just going to pick it apart, one piece of wood at a time."

Tournament logistics

Anglers will take off from Bald Eagle State Park, Hunters Run East Ramp located at 149 Main Park Road in Howard, Pa., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at Bryce Jordan Center (Beaver Stadium) beginning at 4 p.m. Thurs. and Fri. Final weigh-in will be on Sat. beginning at 4 p.m. or upon completion of the Penn State vs. Indiana State football game at Beaver Stadium. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Penn State is hosting the College Fishing Festival throughout the three day tournament. Students and fishing fans alike will be treated to the National Guard Warrior Challenge, a Ranger Boat simulator, tailgate games, a sports zone along with contests for cash and several prize give-aways. The festival will take place at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center (Beaver Stadium) located at 127 Bryce Jordan Center in University Park from 2-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday.

Anglers launched into calm, cool conditions on day one.The first-place team wins $12,500 cash for their school and $12,500 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90 horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors for their fishing club. The top five teams from each regional tournament advance to the national championship where the first-place team wins $25,000 for their school and $50,000 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90 horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors for their fishing club.

College Fishing is free to enter and 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.

Coverage of the Northern Regional Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors," will air Nov. 6 from 1 - 2 p.m. ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:38 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 62 degrees
Expected high temperature: 81 degrees
Wind: S at 5-7 mph
Max. humidity: 56 percent
Day's outlook: cloudy, afternoon thunderstorms

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-09-01-northern-regional-sayers-lake 

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