UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

FLW College Fishing National Championship under way

The 2012 national championship college contenders get ready for the start of opening round action on Lake Murray.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - As the top 25 collegiate fishing teams in the nation made their way out onto the open waters of Lake Murray shortly after 7 a.m. to kick off the start of the 2012 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship, the young and talented group of anglers have clearly entered a classroom like no other.

With a prestigious national title and berth into the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on the line this week, competitors will have to successfully navigate nearly 44,000 acres of the expansive and nationally renowned waterway known as Lake Murray.

And, to be sure, it won't be easy.

Pitted against the nation's best college sticks, anglers will have to devise a successful and highly tactical three-day game plan in order to even have a shot at the title. In short, it will be a final exam the likes many have never seen.

"This is going to be awesome," said University of Georgia team member Randy Tolbert, Jr. "We're here at the national championship representing our school. And we're really looking forward to it. To try and win a national title and have a chance to fish in the Forrest Wood Cup, that's pretty cool."

Tolbert's fellow competitors agree that this event is in a class all by itself.

"This tournament is loaded with great anglers," said Dustin Vaal of the University of Indiana. "To get to fish for a national title and have a chance at fishing in the Forrest Wood Cup, it doesn't get any better than that. That's what really makes this fun. To win this would be an absolute dream come true."

FLW College Fishing National Championship anglers make some last-minute preparations before the start of the opening day of competition on Lake Murray.However, dreaming about a title and actually winning one are two different things. For starters, college teams will likely have to boat anywhere from 15 to 17 pounds a day to stay in the running and qualify for Saturday's top-five cut. A recent cold snap has also potentially pushed back the blueback herring spawn until later in the week - which could have some significant ramifications for teams attempting to lock in on a consistent bass bite. Throw in the fact that Lake Murray boasts a nearly endless amount of fishing terrain and you have all the makings of one really challenging tournament.

As such, a carefully devised game plan and the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment will be key.

"There will be a lot of fish caught this week," said Tolbert. "But Lake Murray is a herring lake and it is a completely different kind of animal than any other type of lake we fish. Finding those baitfish will be important because when you do, that usually means you're around active (bass). I think a lot of the guys will be using herring imitators like flukes this week. Topwater baits will be pretty good as well. When the wind is blowing, you'll have some success with spinnerbaits. But I think you'll also see a lot of the finesse-type baits like shaky heads and drop-shots."

Vaal agreed that Lake Murray will present a challenging environment all week long.

"This is a big lake. It's probably four times the size of any lake we have back home in Indiana," said Vaal. "The key is being able to dissect portions of it so it's more manageable. Lake Murray is a really good pattern lake so, if you can figure something out, it should pretty much work anywhere on the lake. For us, I think we're probably going to throw a lot of suspending soft-plastic baits. Topwater baits and the Alabama Rig might come into play as well.

"But finding the blueback herring will be huge," Vaal continued. "The bass are trying to push those baitfish up as shallow as possible. These blueback herring will start spawning when the temperature hits 70 degrees. And once that happens, this lake will be on fire. My guess is that this tournament is going to get better and better as the weather warms up during the week. And by Sunday, when it's supposed to hit 80 degrees, you could see some really big bags."

In the end, for the 50 competitors who have survived the grueling, year-long qualification process, this tournament comes down to one thing - and that's winning.

"We didn't come here just to have a good showing and finish somewhere in the top five," said Tolbert. "With a national title on the line and a chance to fish in the Forrest Wood Cup, you don't get those chances too often. So we're not here to just get a pat on the back. We're here to win."

Meet the contenders

Opening takeoff at the 2012 FLW College Fishing National Championship is about to commence.The following is the complete list of college team competitors vying for this year's national championship title:

Auburn University - Jordan Lee, Vinemont, Ala., and Matt Lee, Auburn, Ala.
California Polytechnic - Scott Hellesen and Damian Bean, both of San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Chico State - Bo Harkins, Chico, Calif., and Anthony Dayton, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Chico State - Thomas White, Fountain Valley, Calif., and Frank Vogt, Chico, Calif.
Christopher Newport - Ryan Ingalls, Fairfax, Va., and Derek Berhalter, Farnham, Va.
Clemson University - Andy Wicker, Pomaria, S.C., and Harold Turner, Sumter, S.C.
Fairmont State University - Wil Dieffenbauch, Hundred, W. Va., and Brent Dodrill, Fairmont, Va.
Fresno State - Kong Moua and Christopher Delgado, both of Fresno, Calif.
Georgia Southern - Wesley Maples, Rocky Face, Ga., and Jed Thigpen, Statesboro, Ga.
Indiana University - Dustin Vaal, Bloomington, Ind., and Steven Bressler, Fremont, Ind.
Kansas State University - Brandon and Ryan Patterson, both of Goddard, Kan.
Kennesaw State University - Thomas Frink, Woodstock, Ga., and Justin Marlow, Kennesaw, Ga.
Louisiana State University - Timothy Morris, Donaldsonville, La., and Richard Murdock, Lawrenceville, Ga.
Northwestern University - Jimmy Morrow, Arlington Heights, Ill., and Matthew Kestufskie, Evanston, Ill.
Ramapo College - Charles Danza, Ringwood, N.J., and Bob Rieder, West Milford, N.J.
Ramapo College - Jeff Voss, Secaucus, N.J., and Joseph Zapf, Whippany, N.J.
Sacramento State - Robert Matsuura, Sacramento, Calif., and Thomas Kanemoto, Elk Grove, Calif.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville - Brad Lemasters, Maryville, Ill., and Justin Skinner, Taylorville, Ill.
Stephen F. Austin - Andrew Upshaw, Hemphill, Texas, and Ryan Watkins, Rockport, Texas
Texas A&M University - Kyle Bates, and Cody Collins, both of College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University - Andrew Shafer, College Station, Texas, and Weston Brown, Bryan, Texas
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi - Jacob Heath and Kennedy Schwartzburg, both of Corpus Christi, Texas
University of Georgia - Randy Tolbert, Jr., Rome, Ga., and Chase Simmemon, Alto, Ga.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point - Ted Johnson and Jody Derks, both of Waupaca, Wis.
Virginia Tech - Wyatt Blevins, Pulaski, Va., and Carson Rejzer, Hampton, Va.

Tournament logistics

National championship college contenders prepare to head out onto Lake Murray.The entire National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship field will compete for two days with the top-five college teams advancing to the third and final day of competition based on their overall accumulated weight. Teams are permitted to bring as many as five fish to the scales during each weigh-in. After the conclusion of Sunday's weigh-in, the tournament title will be awarded to the college team that has recorded the most combined weight over all three days of competition.

The national championship awards the top team with $50,000 cash, a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower engine for their school's bass club and $25,000 for the school they represent.

Daily takeoffs for the national championship will be from Park Site No. 8 (North) located at 2101 N. Lake Drive in Columbia at 7 a.m. Weigh-in will commence at 5 p.m. on Friday, 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and *4:30 p.m. on Sunday. All weigh-ins will be adjacent to the Carolina Baseball Stadium on the University of South Carolina campus located at the corner of Blossom and Williams streets in Columbia.

(Note: *Final weigh-in on Sunday will immediately follow the University of South Carolina baseball game and is subject to change).

How they got here

Four regular-season events were held in each conference - Central, Northern, Southeastern, Texas and Western. The top five teams in each qualifying event advanced to one of five televised three-day National Guard FLW College Fishing Conference Championships. The top five teams from each conference championship advanced to this year's national championship, and the winner of the national championship will qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held Aug. 9-12 on Lake Lanier in Duluth, Ga., and will offer the collegiate anglers the opportunity to compete for a top award of $500,000. The national champions also will receive use of a wrapped boat and Chevy truck for Forrest Wood Cup competition.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Indiana University supporters cheer on their favorite college team.Want to watch the national championship weigh-in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

In conjunction with the tournament, college fishing fans can also take part in The FLW Tailgate Zone, which include a sports zone, tailgate games, climbing wall and Ranger boat simulator. The Tailgate Zone will run from April 13 to 15 (4-7 p.m. on Friday, 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sunday) and will be located adjacent to the Carolina Baseball Stadium.

Coverage of the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship, hosted by the Capital City/Lake Murray Country RTB, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network. "FLW" will air May 27 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. "FLW," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.

Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 6:55 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 40 degrees
Expected high temperature: 76 degrees
Water temperature: 62-68 degrees
Wind: From the south-southwest from 4 mph
Humidity: 40 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Related links:

Live on-the-water coverage
Event schedule
Meet the 2012 FLW College Fishing National Championship teams
FLW Tailgate Zone

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2012-04-13-lake-murray 

A Different Okeechobee

A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »

Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Amistad is one of south Texas’ most famous reservoirs – the other being Falcon. Though it’s not the juggernaut that it was in the not too distant past, Amistad is still an incredible tournament fishery, with room to spread out and plenty of grass and rocky structure to target for big giant wintertime bass. READ MORE »

Here Comes Fall in the Ozarks

Here Comes Fall in the Ozarks

Mother Nature will deliver a big part of the story this week as the 2018 Costa FLW Series season comes to a close on Lake of the Ozarks. The tournament, which is presented by Evinrude, will wrap up the Central Division and finalize the field for the 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship scheduled for Nov. 1-3 at Lake Guntersville. READ MORE »

Promising Tides on Tap at the Cal Delta

Promising Tides on Tap at the Cal Delta

It’s kind of a good news-bad news deal on the California Delta this week as anglers take on this vast and storied fishery for the final event of the Costa FLW Series Western Division. READ MORE »

Summer Not Over at 1000 Islands

Summer Not Over at 1000 Islands

It has been the year of the smallmouth in the Northern Division of the Costa FLW Series this season and the third and final event on the 1000 Islands will certainly showcase that. The event, which is presented by Navionics and hosted by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, is expected to have big weights especially due to the recent results of the Bassmaster Elite Series event and the Renegade Bass Tour Thousand Islands Open held back in early August. No doubt it’ll take over 20 pounds a day to win, however, conditions aren’t as ideal as anticipated for a major smallie smackdown to happen. READ MORE »

Costa Smallmouth Derby Begins on Erie

Costa Smallmouth Derby Begins on Erie

Stop two in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division got underway under clear skies this morning on Lake Erie out of Buffalo. The event, which drew 169 boats, is presented by Polaris and hosted by Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission. The field features some of the top smallmouth sticks in the Northeast. The big question at game time was not whether anglers would catch plenty of fish, but how many and of what size. READ MORE »

Suggs Cracks 24-6 on Barkley

Suggs Cracks 24-6 on Barkley

Andrew Suggs of Cunningham, Tennessee, caught five bass weighing 24 pounds, 6 ounces, to win Saturday’s T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) LBL Division tournament on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his win, Suggs took home $3,945. READ MORE »

High Schoolers Head to Pickwick’s Ledges

High Schoolers Head to Pickwick’s Ledges

At 43,100 surface acres, Pickwick Lake offers lots of fishing area, but when the 2018 TBF/FLW Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship, held in conjunction with the 2018 High School Fishing World Finals, sends 384 teams into competition, even this Tennessee River powerhouse might seem rather small. READ MORE »

Test article

Test article READ MORE »

Game Day on Champlain

Game Day on Champlain

Kicking the season off at Lake Champlain worked great last year, and this year the Costa FLW Series Northern Division is once again getting things rolling on the big Northern lake. Again, there’s a new record field size for the Northern Division with a total of 205 boats. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole and hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, should treat anglers and fans to an impressive parade of big smallmouth bass for the next three days. READ MORE »

Ledge Bite Awaits at Barkley and Kentucky

Ledge Bite Awaits at Barkley and Kentucky

Bass anglers of every stripe smile when they think of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, the sprawling twin reservoirs that, respectively, mark the lower impoundments on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. All bass anglers, including the field of pros and co-anglers who have converged on Lake Barkley State Park for the Costa FLW Series Central Division tournament hosted by Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism and presented by T-H Marine today through Saturday, know what the big lakes can do. READ MORE »

Diverse Patterns in Play at Clear Lake

Diverse Patterns in Play at Clear Lake

The gem of northern California is set to shine as anglers do their best to unlock Clear Lake’s treasure during the Costa FLW Series Western Division event powered by Evinrude and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina. With warm and mostly sunny conditions on tap, we’re expecting a diverse event with all spring phases in play. READ MORE »

Central Division Starts on Table Rock

Central Division Starts on Table Rock

Anglers hitting Table Rock for day one of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance will roll out into somewhat atypical conditions. Stained water held over from high water in the winter and a cool spring have the fish acting differently than they usually do in late April on the White River impoundment. READ MORE »

Bring ’em Big or Bust at Santee Cooper

Bring ’em Big or Bust at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division wraps up its season this week on Santee Cooper. READ MORE »

Warm-up Promises Good Things at Grand

Warm-up Promises Good Things at Grand

Widely regarded as Oklahoma’s premier bass fishery, Grand Lake will present plenty of opportunity for anglers fishing this week’s Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Ranger and hosted by the City of Grove. The tournament kicked off this morning out of Wolf Creek Park, as 169 pros compete for a top prize that includes a five-figure payday and a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-hp Evinrude outboard. Co-anglers will cast for a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-hp Evinrude outboard and an additional $5,000 if Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

Hackemack Smashes 29-8 on Kentucky

Hackemack Smashes 29-8 on Kentucky

Kane Hackemack of Georgetown, Indiana, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 29 pounds, 8 ounces, to take top honors at the 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) LBL Division opener on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Hackemack earned $4,915 for his win. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Adjusting to the week’s weather conditions was the foundational element of Chase Serafin and Cody Batterson’s game plan, as the Adrian College duo grabbed the day-one lead at the Yeti College Fishing Open on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes and then raced across the finish line on day two with a dominant winning weight of 50 pounds, 3 ounces. READ MORE »

High Water Challenges College Open Field

High Water Challenges College Open Field

This week’s YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake could see fish dispersed by flood conditions that have expanded the playing field. When 216 teams from around the country take to this massive Tennessee River reservoir, theirs will be a complicated task with equal measures of great potential and great challenge. READ MORE »

Finally Game Day on Seminole

Finally Game Day on Seminole

After waiting out a canceled day one, the competitors are ready to get the second Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event of the season underway. Taking place on Lake Seminole and presented by T-H Marine, the event is now a two-day shootout, with the full field fishing Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Big times at Sam Rayburn

Big times at Sam Rayburn

The first event of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division on Lake Sam Rayburn presented by YETI and hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off this morning out of the Umphrey Family Pavilion Park. READ MORE »