UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Tough test in Tempe

Tough test in Tempe
FLW College Fishing Western Regional Championship qualifiers await the start of takeoff on Saguaro Lake.

TEMPE, Ariz. - As the top-20 FLW College Fishing Western Regional team qualifiers departed Saguaro Lake Marina shortly after 7 a.m. amidst clear skies, moderate temperatures and light winds, their thoughts undoubtedly centered around one goal - surviving Friday's top-five cut. With conditions largely unchanged from Thursday's competition, the field can expect the bite to be almost identical to the first day of competition - which isn't necessarily a good thing.

When all was said and done after yesterday's weigh-in, only three teams managed to boat three or more keeper fish. Only two teams were able to produce weights in excess of 6 pounds. And only one team - Sacramento State - found five fish to bring to the scales.

Although most teams struggled during Thursday's opening round of competition, a select few teams did excel. At the head of the pack was the Chico State team of Thomas White and Frank Vogt, who produced a relatively healthy four-fish stringer weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces.

"We're pretty much going to have the same game plan today," said Vogt. "We're just hoping for a little stronger current to stir up some more baitfish. We have a couple of spots where we're spending most of our time and if they produce today, we should be fine."

Vogt's partner said that on a small lake like Saguaro, and with the bite as fickle as it has been, patience is key.

"It's a nice lake but it's like a NASCAR track out there," said White. "At times there is a lot of boater congestion. And the bite is pretty tough so you need to have a lot of patience. We're really trying to fish both hard and smart. We're trying to stay at a specific depth and keep a careful eye on our graphs. You also need to know when to move and when to stay."

Ideally, the team said they would like to continue to target largemouth bass keying on balls of baitfish.

"But if we can't locate those, we've been targeting lots of roaming fish," said Vogt. "if the bait's not there, you have to target those bigger fish cruising through your areas."

While being in first place with only one day of competition remaining before the cut is an enviable position to be in, it's also a nerve-wracking one.

"I'd rather not be in first place right now because everybody is after the guys on top," said White. "I told my partner to approach today's competition just like we're in 20th place and we need a big day because we could very well go out there and flop and not get to fish tomorrow."

With the impressive Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site serving as backdrop to todayWhile surviving today's top-five cut is crucial for a tournament title run, which comes with a top award of $50,000, it's also important for another very compelling reason - each of the top-five team finalists will be invited to the 2012 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

As such, there are plenty of teams that are going to do everything possible to make that cut, including the team of Nick Doring and Zachary Niesen, whose University of Oregon team is currently in sixth place on the outside looking in.

"We're just going to go out there and use the same kind of plan we used yesterday because we're on some good fish," said Niesen. "And I think if we just keep doing what we've been doing, we'll be fine. We're using a very slow presentation and we're targeting deep fish, looking for drop-offs near shelves. Our goal is to come back today with 8 to 10 pounds. Hopefully, everything will work out for us."

Tourney format and event logistics

Twenty college teams will compete for a top award of $50,000 to be split between the school and bass fishing club; $37,500 for the bass club, which includes $12,500 in cash as well as a Ranger 177TR with a 90 horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors, and $12,500 for their school.

Anglers will take off from Saguaro Del Norte Recreation Site located at 14011 North Bush Highway in Mesa, Ariz., at 7 a.m. each morning. All weigh-ins will be held outside the Wells Fargo Arena on the Arizona State University campus at 606 East Alpha Drive. Friday's weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday's final weigh-in will begin at 5 p.m., just prior to the Arizona State-Arizona football game.

Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Schools competing in the Western Regional include:

Arizona State University - Joseph Jarrell, Phoenix, Ariz., and Kyle Keegan, Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State University - Mark Walker, Cave Creek, Ariz., and Craig Carroll, Chandler, Ariz.
Boise State - Jared Spickelmier, Boise, Idaho, and Jacob Leanna, Menominee, Mich.
Boise State - Michael Zawacki, Boise, Idaho, and Tanner Bice, Middleton, Idaho
California Polytechnic - Scott Hellesen and Damian Bean, both of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
California State University, Long Beach - Justin Gangel, Oceanside, Calif., and Alex Cox, Long Beach, Calif.
California State University, Monterey Bay - David Hamblin, Morgan Hill, Calif., and Matthew Diaz, Castroville, Calif.
Chico State - Bo Harkins, Chico, Calif., and Anthony Dayton, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Chico State - Bryce Hayes, Taft, Calif., and Lucas Russell, Chico, Calif.
Chico State - Nicholas Carrico, Oroville, Calif., and Matthew Wetmore, Chico, Calif.
Chico State - Thomas White, Fountain Valley, Calif., and Frank Vogt, Chico, Calif.
Fresno State - Christopher Delgado and Kong Moua, both of Fresno, Calif.
Humboldt State University - Ben Smith and Dominic Vitali, both of Samoa, Calif.
Northern Arizona University - Nicole Albright and Brent Perkins, both of Phoenix, Ariz.
Sacramento State - Kyle Derbish and Greg Taluban, both of Sacramento, Calif.
Sacramento State - Robert Matsuura, Sacramento, Calif., and Thomas Kanemoto, Elk Grove, Calif.
University of Nevada, Reno - Brandon Murphy, Reno, Nev., and Jared Malone, Sonora, Calif.
University of Oregon - Ross Richards, Eugene, Ore., and Reed Frazier San Rafael, Calif.
University of Oregon - William Crowl, Eugene, Ore., and Kyle Schneider, Beaverton, Ore.
University of Oregon - Zachary Niesen and Nick Doring, both of Mill Valley, Calif.

FLW College Fishing Western Regional qualifiers patiently await the start of takeoff.The top five teams from FLW College Western Regional Championship will advance to the FLW College Fishing National Championship, which features a first-place 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.

Arizona State will be hosting the College Fishing Festival throughout the three-day tournament. Students and fishing fans alike will be treated to a Ranger Boat simulator, Sony PS3 Gaming Trailer, tailgate games, a sports zone along with contests for cash and several prize giveaways. The festival will take place outside the Wells Fargo Arena located at 606 East Alpha Drive in Tempe from 2 - 4 p.m. on Friday; and from 2:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

College Fishing is free to enter. FLW 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.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Takeoff commences on Saguaro Lake.Coverage of the Western Regional Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors," will air Dec. 25 from 1 - 2 p.m. ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

Want to watch Thursday's FLW College Fishing Western Regional Championship weigh-in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 4 p.m. Mountain time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's weigh in.

FLW College Fishing anglers wait for the sun to rise over Saguaro Lake.Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 7:02 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 52 degrees
Expected high temperature: 76 degrees
Water temperature: 65-67 degrees
Wind: From the south-southeast at 5-10 mph
Humidity: 39 percent
Day's outlook: Mostly sunny

Related links:

College Fishing Festival
Event schedule

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2011-11-17-western-regional-saguaro-lake 

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