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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Hunger games

With the camera boat filming, Western Regional teams follow the flag boat for the day-one takeoff on Utah Lake.

OREM, Utah - Bass like many things - shade, shelter, an absence of eagles; but nothing drives their actions more than the pursuit of food. It is this principle that will largely determine daily outcomes for the 20 teams competing in the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Western Regional Championship on Utah Lake.

Set in the Utah Valley, overlooked by Mount Timpanogos, this natural lake has two main forage species - bluegill and white bass. The latter school in massive numbers, with the juveniles providing bite-size meals for hungry largemouth. Locating these bass buffets will be one of the key strategies for the event's competitors.

"If you find baitfish, there are predator fish hanging around," said Robert Trukisitz, who partners withEastern Washington Jarred Walker on the Eastern Washington University team. "We got onto some good things yesterday and hopefully that's going to transfer over to today and give us a pretty decent sack."

Walker's assessment of bait options: "It's kind of depending on today's weather. It's overcast today and most of the pre-fishing days, it's been sunny. Also, we're dealing with murky water, so something low - a topwater, possibly is going to be a key bite in the morning. That's something we're going to go out and execute and then we're just going to go from there."

Justin Gangel and Alex Cox of the University of California-Long Beach said they begin the tournament confident that they've located the types of areas that can deliver big results. The real challenge, Gangel said, is that the bass are not spread out across the lake, so consistency demands deduction.

"I would say the bass are pretty isolated," Gangel said. "There are spots in all parts of the lake where they are grouped up. If you can find those spots, you'll be in them thick. It's just (a matter of) finding those spots.

College teams and their observers pause for the national anthem."We spent a lot of time practicing, figuring out what we want to do. Yesterday, we ran a secondary spot - it wasn't going to be a primary spot - and we probably shook off 20 bites. So we're very confident that we're going to be able to get out five today. In prefishing, we had some pretty good days so hopefully today will continue with that. If we get our five bites, we should be somewhere close to 12 or 15 pounds."

Local anglers, Aaron Warner and Russell Behlings of Utah Valley University acknowledge the forage strategy, but they will likely work in a different direction. Towels covered the baits they had tied on, so they weren't keen on sharing much about their specific tactics, but Warner said that pitching and flipping into reeds will play a big role in their plan.

"The white bass pattern will do really well, but I think there are other techniques," he said. "It's going toUtah Valley be really hot, so we're going to have to slow it down and do a little finesse (fishing) and that's going to be the ticket."

Behlings said that they're hoping to get a jump on the game with a good morning bite. Taking off in the second half of the field, the Utah Valley anglers were planning to see if their first spot was occupied and then evaluate from there. He also noted that the forecast for more clouds and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon will require adjustments throughout the day.

"I think (the bite) can be good throughout the day," Behlings said. "I've caught fish in every hour of the day on this lake in the spring. I haven't fished it in the fall like this, but I think you can catch fish any time of the day."

Tournament logistics

At the morning takeoff, some boats turned south, while others headed north.Anglers will take off from Utah Lake State Park, located at 4400 West Center Street in Provo, UT., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart store, located at 1355 Sandhill Rd., Orem, Utah beginning at 4 p.m. Thurs. and Fri. Final weigh-in will be on Sat. beginning at 4 p.m.

Throughout the three-day tournament, students and fishing fans alike will be treated to the FLW Expo, which includes 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 Expo will take place at the Walmart store, located at 1355 Sandhill Rd., Orem, Utah from 2-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.

The first-place team wins $12,500 cash for their school and $12,500 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90 horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors for their fishing club. The top five teams from each regional tournament advance to the national championship where the first-place team wins $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.

College Fishing is free to enter and FLW Outdoors provides boats and drivers for each competingTeams were fired up and ready for action at the start of day one. 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.

Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:53 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 65 degrees
Expected high temperature: 89 degrees
Wind: South 5-7 mph
Max. Humidity: 52 percent
Day's outlook: Oversast early, mostly cloudy in the afternoon

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2012-08-30-western-conference-championship 

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