UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

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High hopes on low lake

High hopes on low lake
Beached against the shore of a dramatically low Somerville Lake, the top-five teams pause for the national anthem.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - They say everything's bigger in the Lone Star State and apparently, that includes trash talking. Let's just say that the camaraderie among today's top-five teams showed a strong undercurrent of hardcore competition on the final morning of FLW National Guard College Fishing Texas Regional Championship action on Lake Somerville.

Texas A&M's Kyle Bates and Cody Collins start the day in first place after overtaking Andrew Upshaw and Ryan Watkins, of Stephen F. Austin, who led day one with 21-5 (the event's heaviest bag). The opposition seeks every opportunity to challenge the lead, but Bates and Collins have no intention of letting the title slip away from the hometown school.Leading the field, Texas A&M

"This is unreal, (leading) in this environment," Bates said. "We had some good confidence coming into this event and we're in striking range to win this thing and we'd love to do it in front of our home crowd."

Clearly eager to see his team regain the top position, Watkins issued a good-natured warning to the leaders: "A&M had better watch out because I'm looking to upset them on Somerville. Every one of these teams deserves to win, but we're definitely coming for them. A&M had better watch out because I've got a target on their backs. The (prize) money is great, but I want the title."

Standing up for their fellow Aggies, as well as their own shot at glory, Texas A&M's Andrew Shafer and Weston Brown made it clear that their third-place position has them well within reach of pulling out Starting the day in second place, Stephen F. Austinthe win.

"I don't know what SFA's talking about - we're going to lay down some smack today," Shafer stated.

It's safe to say that all of the finalists carry that objective onto Somerville - a lake vastly lowered by several months of extreme Texas drought. With this Yegua Creek reservoir currently about 10 feet below normal, traditional shoreline cover stands high and dry, while fish have concentrated around particular stretches of rocky bottom and brush piles.

Bates and Collins will spend most of their day fishing Lucky Craft shallow diving crankbaits. After bagging a 9-pound, 12-ounce mule on day one and then following up with a 6-7 on day two, Bates said his team is encouraged to see the big fish their home lake holds have decided to cooperate this week. Today, however, they're more interested in a day full of quality bites than a time-consuming hunt for one huge bite.

"We were definitely fortunate to catch those two fish; that's not commonplace on this lake for me," heTexas A&M has a second top-five presence thanks to Weston Brown and Andrew Shafer. said. "We're going to move around and hit some of the same spots and fish hard."

SFA has also caught many of their fish on cranks, but Watkins said that nothing's set in stone for the all-important final round. "You dance with the one that brought you so we're going to do what we did to get here, but we have a few curve balls we're going to throw today to try and catch a big one."

Upshaw added this: "Ryan and I like to swing for the fence and we haven't gotten to swing for the fence all week. Even though we caught 21 the first day, we still haven't swung all the way. The first goal was to make the national championship (with a top-five finish). Goal two was to win this tournament."

Shafer and Brown have held the third-place spot since day one. Shafer said his team has struggled to LSUfind a strong pattern and has relied on piecing together limits with reaction baits, as well as slower plastic presentations. They'll likely use a mixed bag today, as well.

Fourth-place LSU's Timothy Morris and Richard Murdock have sat on a road bed for two days and they've caught their fish on Excalibur square bills. Murdock said they'll stick with that plan again today in hopes that it holds enough fish for one more competitive bag.

Starting the day in fifth, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Jacob Heath and Kennedy Schwartzburg hope to get back on the quality they found on day two. Their 15-pound, 6-ounce limit included a 6-pounder, but Heath said they both lost bigger fish. If Somerville offers Heath and Schwartzburg more shots at such fish, these guys could make things interesting at the final weigh-ins.

Tournament logistics

Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at 5 p.m., or upon the completion of the Texas A&M vs. Baylor football game. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

The top five teams from each regional tournament advance to the national championship where theWith low water keeping boats at a distance, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi first-place team wins an award of $100,000; $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.

Texas A&M will be hosting the College Fishing Festival throughout the three day tournament. Students and fishing fans alike will be treated to the a Ranger Boat simulator, Sony PS3 Gaming Trailer, tailgate games, a sports zone along with contests for cash and several prize give-aways. The festival will take place at Duncan Field from 2 - 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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.

Day-two leaders Kyle Bates and Cody Collins take off for a final shot at Somerville Lake. Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 7:23 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 64 degrees
Expected high temperature: 87 degrees
Wind: SSE 6 mph
Max. Humidity: 25 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2011-10-13-texas-regional-somerville-lake 

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