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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Bulldogs diggin’ in

Despite seeing their weight decline on day two, Randy Tolbert and Chase Simmemon kept the University of Georgia in the top spot for a second day.

AUBURN, Ala. - The skies were high and bright; the weights low and dim. However, the five teams now qualified for tomorrow's finale showed why they deserve a run at the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Southeast Regional Championship presented by Evinrude.

Post-frontal conditions are never easy and today's bright, sunny makeup typified the high pressure scenario that follows a cold spell like the one that passed over Lake Harding shortly before the tournament started. Weights were down for most teams and the overall catch was off some 20 pounds. Oddly though, Harding yielded nine limits - two more than day one.

Back in the top spot, the University of Georgia's Randy Tolbert and Chase Simmemon saw their weight slip to nearly half of what they caught yesterday. Their second-day limit of 5 pounds, 12 ounces combined with 10 even on day one gave them a two-day total of 15-12.

Yesterday, the leaders held a 1-pound, 7-ounce advantage over Clemson's Andy Wicker and HaroldThe University of Georgia Turner, but today they saw that margin shrink to 4 ounces. Tolbert said he was less concerned with leads than with securing a berth in the finale.

"I told Chase that we're going to fish to make the top-5 until Friday afternoon; then we're going to fish to win," he said. "The main goal was to make the top-5 just to (qualify for) the College Fishing National Championship, to have an opportunity to win that and eventually fish the Forrest Wood Cup." (College Fishing National Champions automatically qualify for the following year's Forrest Wood Cup.) So we made the top-5 and now it's time to fish for the win tomorrow."

Tolbert said the game plan of grabbing a few quick keepers by fishing topwaters over deep structure in the first hour or so fizzled, so they had to adjust.

"We didn't have an early bite - we didn't catch a keeper until 9 o'clock and yesterday we had three keepers in the first 20 minutes," he said. "It just didn't happen for us today so we scrapped out limit holes and went fishing for big fish. We caught three fish shallow and then went back out to the limit holes around noon and caught two more."

Randy Tolbert and Chase Simmemon carry a slim 4-ounce lead into the final round.The Bulldogs caught their deeper fish on dropshots with finesse worms and when they flipped shallow cover, they threw Texas-rigged creature baits.

"We really had to mix it up with the baits because today they got really finicky," Tolbert said. "Yesterday, it really didn't seem to matter what (plastic bait) we used and today we had to keep changing to catch fish.

"Yesterday we caught 20 fish but today we caught nine or 10 total fish with five keepers. We could have caught more keepers and culled ounces, but we were fishing to cull pounds."

Simmemon said that their flipping strategy was to sit in deep water, cast into mere inches and pull the baits back through grass and over any structure they found. Bites, he said, were much less aggressive than in recent days.

"Today, they were kind of mushing it," Simmemon said. "In practice, they were killing it. The bite changed. I guess the cold front affected them."

Clemson clings to second

Wicker and Turner caught the day's heaviest sack - a limit of 6-15 that narrowed the gap between firstClemson and second by raising their total to 15-8.

"We really thought we had a strong pattern in the morning with a crankbait," he said. "We caught 10 or 12 keepers on it yesterday and we really thought it was going to be the deal today. But we only caught maybe two keepers on it today and they were few and far between. Later in the day, the wind picked up and we started catching them."

The Clemson duo boated 4 of their weight fish on the crankbait and grabbed the fifth on a Texas-rigged creature bait. Turner said it looked as though their top-5 berth was slipping away, until a late-day rally pulled them back into contention.

"We had probably four or five good areas and the first four were about strikeouts," he said. "We had one fish at 1:00 and in the last hour, we put it on `em. The wind picked up and it was a perfect situation. We had three bites really quick on the crankbait and then (Wicker) did his specialty and flipped and caught our biggest fish of the day out of the grass."

Frink and Marlow keep Kennesaw in third

A one-two punch of topwater presentations and pitching plastics worked well for Kennesaw StateKennesaw State University's Thomas Frink and Justin Marlow have been the most consistent team, in terms of consecutive days' weights. Yesterday, they caught 7-9 and today they added 6-13 for a total weight of 14-6. Frink said he and Marlow started their day by cranking and dropshotting for spotted bass downriver, but they soon realized that this plan was not going to pan out.

"We started out downlake, trying to get a couple of spots before we ran upriver and grind it out all day," Frink said. "That bite wasn't really happening with the bluebird skies, so we decided to get upriver quicker and hopefully get a bigger bite early. We didn't get as many bites upriver either, but we stuck it out all day just covering water. We'd get a bite here, get a bite there."

Frink described their upriver strategy as a one-two punch. He threw a frog or a buzzbait and if a fish showed itself without taking the surface bait, Marlow would pitch a Yamamoto Ika.

"Yesterday, they'd blow up on the frog but they weren't eating it that good so when they'd blow up and miss it, he'd throw in there and catch them," Frink said. "Today they were eating the frog better. A couple of times, we'd see fish chase it out but they wouldn't commit to it, so he'd throw the Ika in there and he'd usually catch them."

Georgia Southern improves to fourth

Georgia Southern's Wesley Maples and Jed Thigpen placed sixth on day one and missed the top-5 byAfter missing the top-5 by an ounce on day one, Georgia Southern an ounce. Today, they sacked up another limit - this one weighing 5 pounds - and gained two spots to take fourth place with 12-4.

"Yesterday was a scramble for us and today was a scramble," Thigpen said. "We didn't think we had enough when we came in today, but everything worked out and we're happy to be in the top-5."

Throwing Texas-rigged worms around brush piles dominated their day's activity. Maples said theirs was not a highly productive day, but they capitalized on all opportunities.

"We caught one short fish and five keepers," he said. "We had nothing go wrong, no break-offs. That's all we can do."

Marlow said that he dipped the tails of his worms in chartreuse dye to vary the presentations. Thigpen fished unaltered worms and both options produced fish.

Auburn slides in at fifth

Hometown favorites, Matt Lee and Jordan Lee earned a final-round spot for Auburn University.Hometown team Jordan Lee and Matt Lee put Auburn University in the top-5 by catching a limit of 5-1 and bolstering their tournament total to 11-10. The brothers improved two spots from seventh on day one.

Jordan attributes at least some of his team's success to the "lucky cookies" he packed. A blatant rip-off of the famous Kevin Van Dam cookies, the Lee version also combines peanut butter and chocolate chips.

"I packed them last night and said `I'm bringing them today because they're going to be lucky,' I ate a few of them today and look what happened," Jordan said.

Matt joked that the cookies were nearly donated to the fish. "We almost threw them out of the boat because by one o'clock, we didn't have any keepers. We ate them and nothing happened. But we almost spoke too soon because it just took a little while."

The Lee brothers caught their keepers on dropshots baited with Roboworms.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 leaders at the Southeast College Regional Championship:

6th: Lagrange College, Torre Pike and Ryan Wakenigg, 11-7
7th: Kennesaw State University, Chris Ellis and Brinson Roland, 10-13
8th: Coastal Carolina, Wyatt Hammond and John Miller, 9-4
9th: UAB, Patrick Townes and Taylor Mardis, 9-1
10th: South Alabama, Taylor Ramey and John McGraw, 8-12

Day three of FLW National Guard College Fishing Series action continues at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:00 a.m. (Central Time) at Po-Boy Landing located at 158 County Road 335 in Salem, Ala.

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

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