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High hopes

High hopes
The Central Conference Championship on Carlyle Lake prepares to begin while anglers put their boats in the water.

CARLYLE, Ill. - September marks the time most college students hit the books hard for another semester. Outside of academics, college football and parties become priorities for many students. Though, for the 20 teams that qualified for the National Guard FLW College Fishing Central Conference Championship in Carlyle, Ill., it means a shot at making it to the FLW College Fishing National Championship.

Carlyle Lake sits just 50 miles east of St. Louis, Mo., and is the largest man-made lake within Illinois. At 26,000 acres, there is plenty of water to hold good numbers of largemouths. The lake has an upper and lower portion that is divided by the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks bridge. The upper lake is more stained, shallow water and holds timber and brush that was left to stand when the lake was created. On the other hand, the lower portion contains less structure and slightly cleaner water.


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One thing that seems to be clear is the seemingly endless supply of forage for the bass. With bluegills, bullheads, crappies and white bass - just to name a few - the bucketmouths can afford to be picky.

"There are so many species of fish in this lake that you can find schools of bait everywhere," said Nicholas Schuetz, who partners with Elliott Myers for the Purdue University team. "The lake is 4-feet higher than when we were here practicing before. But I think we know the lake well enough that when we figure out what the fish are doing, we can run areas that should hold fish."

Another team that seems confident the water change shouldn't affect much is the duo of Sean Gillenwater and Derrick Hoffman from Indiana University.

"The water has definitely changed a lot, but we still managed to find some fish," said Gillenwater. "We shook off a bunch of fish yesterday. We haven't really had a big bite yet, but there are lots of 2-pounders.

Sean Gillenwater of Indiana University waits while his partner, Derrick Hoffman, tows him to the ramp. "We could see better weights than when the water was lower," Gillenwater went on to say. "Today could be a little tough after that big storm rolled through yesterday, but tomorrow should be better."

Carlyle Lake has an average depth of 11 feet, so when the teams made it out while the water was lower the fish seemed to be more schooled up. Now the fish are beginning to explore the shoreline cover they are used to seeing.

Dan Martin and Michael March of Eastern Illinois University appeared confident in what they had found during practice.

One of the Eastern Illinois University teams of Dan Martin and Michael March finish rigging rods. "There is a really good mid-day bite out here," said Martin. "I fished this lake back in 2008 for a high school tournament which was in the spring; the bite is much tougher now. But we still found a good pattern in prefishing, and yesterday we really fine-tuned it. That thunder and lightning yesterday seemed to make the fish a little finicky though."

Tournament logistics

Anglers will take off from Dam West Boat Ramp located at 801 Lake Road in Carlyle, Ill., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 2591 12th St., in Carlyle, Ill., beginning at 4 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Thursday and Friday from 2-4 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors. Fans can also learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

20 teams wait for the first day of the Central Conference Championship to kick off. Thursday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:31 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees
Expected high temperature: 91 degrees
Wind: Light and variable
Max. Humidity: 64 percent
Day's outlook: slight chance of rain, otherwise sunny

Tags: kyle-wood  morning-story  2012-09-06-central-conference-championship 

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