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FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opens on Lake Okeechobee

FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opens on Lake Okeechobee
Martin flips thick vegetation with Tharp in the distance doing the same.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Okeechobee Jan. 12 for the first of four stops in the Southeastern Conference. Fifty college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Southeastern Conference Invitational tournament.

"This is going to be a very fun tournament," said Evinrude pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup Champion who has five top-10 finishes on his home waters of Lake Okeechobee. "Water levels on Okeechobee are a lot higher this year, and the college anglers are going to be able to fish wherever they want to. There is so much more fishable water now; it's really pretty amazing.

"The big fish are starting to bite," Martin continued. "The water has been up long enough that the fish are starting to settle in and move into the spawning phase. It's getting better and better every day, but the big spawn hasn't happened yet. The high water slowed them down from coming in on time, but they're getting on track right now. By tournament time it should be a good bite."

When asked what baits would be popular in this event, Martin suggested that the majority of anglers would be flipping creature-style baits or throwing swimbaits.

"Any time you are fishing Lake Okeechobee, you're focusing your efforts on 3 to 6 feet of water," Martin said. "That will hold true again this year. I'd be flipping a Bruiser Baits Intruder or throwing a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer."

Martin also had some tips for college anglers who may not have much experience on Lake Okeechobee.

"Bring big enough rods," he said. "That's a mistake so many people make here. They bring tackle down here that is not set up for the battle they are about to get into. During the tournament, pick an area and really concentrate on that spot. You don't have to run all over the place to win this tournament."

Martin predicted that the winning team will bring about 20 pounds to the scales.

Anglers will take off from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 W. Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Weigh-in will be held at the park beginning at 1:30 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.

Schools competing in the Lake Okeechobee tournament, which is hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism Development Council, include:

Auburn University - Chris Seals, Odenville, Ala., and Shane Powell, Dothan, Ala.
Auburn University-Montgomery - Ronald Nummy, Prattville, Ala., and Thomas Frink, Simi Valley, Calif.
Augusta State University - Wesley Steinmeyer Jr., Appling, Ga., and Lucas Johnson, Augusta, Ga.
Clemson University - Hunter Cockram and Matthew Garvin, both of York, S.C.
Coastal Carolina University - Kristin Forquer, Hedgesville, W. Va., and John Miller, Conway, S.C.
Columbus State University - Ryan Wakenigg, Harris County, Ga., and Brad Davis, Winder, Ga.
Darton State College - Michael Crout, Leesburg, Ga., and Kyle Parks, Albany, Ga.
Daytona State College - Thomas Oltorik and Scott Heaberlin, both of Deland, Fla.
East Carolina University - Zachary Blalock, Raleigh, N.C., and Justin Smith, Roseboro, N.C.
Elon University - William Gilbert, Manchester, Vt., and Nathan James, Greensboro, N.C.
Emmanuel College - Chad Robinson, Phenix City, Ala., and Ben Moon, Royston, Ga.
Florida Gulf Coast University - Christian Smith, Coral Springs, Fla., and Brianne McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla.
Florida State University - Justin Mahon and Jason Mahon, both of Port Charlotte, Fla.
Gardner-Webb University - Kyle Creed, Bessemer City, N.C., and Jessica Dowling, Granite Falls, N.C.
Georgia College - Clayton Faircloth, Swainsboro, Ga., and Chancey Gray, Milledgeville, Ga.
Georgia Southern University - Tanner Parker, Dalton, Ga., and Trent Palmer, Peachtree City, Ga.
Georgia Southwestern State University - Chandler Ray, Arlington, Ga., and Carson Ray, Americus, Ga.
Jacksonville State University - Colby Smith and Justin Buckles, both of Jacksonville, Ala.
Kennesaw State University - Taylor Thompson and Justin Marlow, both of Kennesaw, Ga.
LaGrange College - Torre Pike, Flat Rock, Ala., and Tyler Johnson, Marietta, Ga.
Lander University - Roland Addy, Saluda, S.C., and Josh Bryan, Chappells, S.C.
Lincoln Memorial University - Chris Hunt, Loudon, Tenn., and Kyle Warwick, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Macon State College - Christopher Wilder and Bryan Daniels, both of Macon, Ga.
Middle Tennessee State - Nolen Spencer, Bell Buckle, Tenn., and Jonathon Reese, Fayetteville, Tenn.
Mississippi College - Will Hedgepeth and Grant Phillips, both of Clinton, Miss.
Mississippi State University - Taylor Odom, Meridian, Miss., and Josh Cameron, Starkville, Miss.
North Carolina State University - Paul Owens, Raleigh, N.C., and Tyler Faggart, Greensboro, N.C.
Polk State College - Austin Bell and Forrest Greenfield, both of Winter Haven, Fla.
Santa Fe College - Drew Cook, Quincy, Fla., and Cameron Petras, Gainesville, Fla.
Seminole State College - Neal Combs, Osteen, Fla. And Kevin Lucas, Apopka, Fla.
Southern Polytechnic State University - Grant Kelly, McDonough, Ga., and David Sherry, Marietta, Ga.
State College of Florida - Re Durso and Jarrad Albritton, both of Sarasota, Fla.
Tennessee Tech University - Ryan Harpe and Chris Thomas, both of Cookeville, Tenn.
Troy University - Connor Bedsole, Arab, Ala., and Kevin Greene, Montgomery, Ala.
University of Alabama - Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala., and Keith Kirkley, Northport, Ala.
University of Alabama-Birmingham - Matt Lipscomb, Springville, Ala., and Gregory Cain, Trafford, Ala.
University of Central Florida - Casey O'Donnell, Bradenton, Fla., and Chad Cook, Orlando, Fla.
University of Georgia - Bo Larkins, Watkinsville, Ga., and Byron Kenney, Griffin, Ga.
University of Montevallo - Joseph Handley, Hueytown, Ala., and Joseph Fuller, Brierfield, Ala.
University of North Alabama - Shane Jewell, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and Robb Young, Rogersville, Ala.
University of North Carolina-Charlotte - Eric Self, Lawndale, N.C., and Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C.
University of North Florida - Rich Rittichai, Orlando, Fla., and Rachel Amuso, Jacksonville, Fla.
University of South Alabama - Logan Marston and Ethan Wages, both of Mobile, Ala.
University of South Carolina - Hampton Anderson, Anderson, S.C., and Zack Davis, Rock Hill, S.C.
University of South Florida - Matthew Reeves, Hilliard, Fla., and Nick Ahearn, Sebring, Fla.
University of Southern Mississippi - Adam Naquin III, Poplarville, Miss., and John Ladner, Kiln, Miss.
University of Tennessee - Hunter Shults, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and John Svancarek, Knoxville, Tenn.
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga - Parker Bacon, Nashville, Tenn., and Taylor Bolton, Chattanooga, Tenn.
University of Tennessee-Martin - Hayden Smith, Dickson, Tenn., and Alex Derry, Martin, Tenn.
Young Harris College - Brad Rutherford, Lavonia, Ga., and Matthew Peeler, Griffin, Ga.

FLW College Fishing teams compete in four qualifying events in one of five conferences - Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five conference invitational tournaments. The top ten teams from each conference invitational tournament will advance to the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

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.

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing. Visit CollegeFishing.com to sign up or to start a club at your school.

About FLW

FLW is the industry's premier tournament-fishing organization, providing unparalleled fishing resources and entertainment to our sponsors, fans and host communities. FLW is offering anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2013 over the course of 231 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport's richest payday and most coveted championship trophy - the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the "Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water," through a variety of platforms including tournaments, outdoor expos and FLW Fantasy Fishing. For more information about FLW and FLW Fantasy Fishing, browse FLWOutdoors.com or visit FantasyFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

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