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Discreet home Alabama

Discreet home Alabama
A cool, sunny morning greets the College Fishing Southeast Regional anglers on Lake Harding.

AUBURN, Ala. - It's always a tough nut to crack - getting college anglers to dish out detailed descriptions of how they've been catching their fish and how they intend to do so in subsequent days. However, given the cool spell that recently befell the Auburn, Ala., area, we can expect a tight-lipped field at the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeast Regional Championship, presented by Evinrude.

Of the 20 teams that qualified through regular-season competition, none carry greater expectations than hometown favorites Matt and Jordan Lee - the brothers from Auburn University. As Jordan noted, the cold spell that rolled into town yesterday and dropped the water temperature more than 10 degrees will have the fish in a finicky mood until they have time to settle into the new conditions.

"It's more reaction fishing, especially with the water temperature dropping as much as it has," Jordan Lee said. "You're really going to have to make them bite. That's how we're going to approach the tournament. It's mostly topwater for us.

"They're just really scattered - it's just a bite here, a bite there. We're just covering a lot of water andHometown anglers Jordan Lee and Matt Lee will do their best to represent Auburn University well on Lake Harding. we'll see how it works out."

With a good mix of docks, stumps, grass, lay-downs and ledges, productive bass fishing may be found throughout this 5,850-acre Chattahoochee River impoundment. For the Lee brothers, site location will come down to quality versus quantity.

"We're fishing upriver," Matt Lee said. "We haven't gotten a lot of bites, but we get better quality bites. Whereas, downriver we're catching more fish, but just not any big ones. We're staying where, even without a cold front, we had to cover a lot of water, but we had a couple of really good bites in practice. If we can get a couple big bites (this week), that's a game-changer."

Jordan Lee said that he and his brother will take any potential big bites as an indication to give that area more attention.

"We'll try to hit (such spots) multiple times during the day, but we're going to keep the trolling motor on 50 to 60 and run all the productive water we found in practice."

Buzzbaits, hollow body frogs and other surface presentations will enable anglers to search for active fish.Also feeling plenty of pressure this week will be the University of Florida's Mark Gipson and Travis Fledderman. Gipson's brother Jake, along with partner Matthew Wercinski, won not only the College Fishing Southeast Regional in 2009 and 2010, but also the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship the past two years.

"I do feel a lot of pressure to do well at this tournament," Mark Gipson said. "My brother's been a very good fisherman, so I have to live up to that a little bit. At the University of Florida, we are the defending national champions, so we're expected to do well here.

"We're going to be running and gunning a lot today. We have several spots that we think can produce well. It's going to be tough with the changing conditions, but we're just going to have to adapt to that and do our best."

Fledderman added: "I think Lake Harding is a day-to-day kind of lake. I think conditions are going to change a lot, so we'll have to adjust accordingly."

Gipson said that he and his partner tried a variety of depths during practice and found their best results over rocks, points and ledges in 10 to 15 feet of water. They'll stick with that plan for day one.

"A lot of our spots, we can only get so many fish out of them every day, so we're going to have to try toThe University of Florida get a limit out of a combination of spots rather than one particular spot."

Today's forecast for mostly sunny skies should bode well for anglers, as sunlight positions bass closer to structure. Seeking shade, the fish will position predictably, so anglers have an easier time targeting them. Of course, finding fish and catching fish are related, but different realities. Therefore, the search will be significant today.

Anglers will likely use a variety of moving baits to search promising areas and then slow down to fish specific spots when they draw a strike. Crankbaits will see plenty of water time today, as will spinnerbaits, jigs, drop-shots and shaky heads.

As the tournament progresses, the cooling weather should spur the fish into active feeding. Anglers who locate areas with baitfish schools will find hungry bass. Capitalizing on these scenarios will deliver big rewards.

"That temperature drop will put a little damper on the fishing," Jordan Lee said. "It's going to take them a little while to get used to it, but by Friday it might heat up."

Tournament logistics

Montevallo's Preston Broadhead ties on a crankbait before the start of day on on Lake Harding.Anglers will take off from Po-Boy Landing located at 158 County Road 335 in Salem, Ala., at 7 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at Ag Heritage Park located at 411 S. Donahue St. in Auburn, Ala., beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 3 p.m. or upon completion of the Auburn University vs. Mississippi State Football game Saturday. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Auburn University will also host a 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 Ag Heritage Park from 2-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. until the kickoff of the football game on Saturday.

A National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament will also be held Saturday. Takeoff will be at 7 a.m. at Po-Boy Landing and weigh-in will be at 3 p.m. (subject to end of football game) at Ag Heritage Park.

The top five teams from each regional advance to the national championship where the first-place team will win $100,000 with $25,000 of that for their school and $50,000 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat wrapped in school colors and a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard 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 collegeCollege Fishing compeitors take off for day one of the Southeast Regional Championship on Lake Harding. or university.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:38 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 75 degrees
Wind: NW at 7-10 mph
Max. humidity: 56 percent
Day's outlook: mostly sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-09-08-southeast-regional-lake-harding 

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