Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three Tournaments in One

The first annual National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship is supposed to be a three-day tournament, but it's shaping up to be more like three days of tournaments, with each phase being dramatically different from its predecessor.
On Day One at Fort Loudoun Lake southwest of Knoxville, the Auburn team of Dennis Parker and Shaye Baker burst out of the gate with a 16-pound, 10-ounce stringer of six bass to lead the field of 25 two-man teams. Murray State's Kalem Tippett and Steve Miller then positioned themselves as the stalking horse with a 15-pound, 12-ounce stringer. Just when it appeared as if the event would boil down to a nail-biter between the Tigers and the Racers, Day Two spoiled the script.
As Auburn faltered with one bass that weighed 1-pound, 2-ounces and Murray State couldn't manage a single keeper, Texas State came on like a stampede. Jay McCollum and David Cosner, who started out in fourth place with 13-3, brought in 9-10 in the next round and captured the lead with 22 pounds, 13 ounces. Likewise, the University of Florida, which had seemingly taken itself out of the running on Saturday with 6 pounds, 6 ounces, posted a 15-pound, 9-ounce stringer Sunday to claim second with 21 pounds, 15 ounces. Texas A&M is the only stable influence in the field. It was in third on Saturday, and stayed in third Sunday with 4 pounds, 8 ounces and a 19-13 total.
"Oh well, even if we don't win, we can say we were in first place on the first day of the first College National Championship," said Auburn's Baker. Though that might be true, and the Tigers are in fourth place ahead of Murray State in the final round, it's still safe to say that anybody could win. It's been that kind of competition.
Auburn and Murray State's anglers blamed a lack of wind and current for making their fish go off the feed, but the final round could see another turnaround as damkeepers at Tellico Dam downstream start generating again bright and early Monday morning.
Still, that could also play into the hands of McCollum and Cosner, who are fishing the same main lake points pattern as Auburn and Murray State. The trump card might be any spawning bass a college angler can land, as swiftly warming temperatures are starting bass toward the banks and shallow flats. Might the current activate the bank runners again that Auburn and Murray State relied on to get them to the head of the pack on Day One?
Or could a couple of more lunkers such as Cosner weighed in Sunday nail it down for Texas State? Anything is possible; the only thing certain is that it's anybody's tournament to win.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Collegiate Weigh-In Will Settle All Bets

The first round of the FLW Collegiate Bass National Championship is waning, and the 25 two-man teams are working their way back toward the take-out ramp at Knoxville. Who's ahead? We'll find out at 4 p.m. or thereabouts when the opening weigh-in starts on the campus of the University of Tennessee. Though a few boats report good sacks of bass, Fort Loudon Lake hasn't been altogether kind to everyone. The team from Eastern Kentucky University, for example, caught more than three dozen bass by mid-afternoon, but only a couple of them were keepers. Ditto for the University of Oregon, which hauled in enough small fries to stock a good-size pond.
Although it's anybody's game now, Auburn, Ohio State and Texas State seem to be emerging as the early favorites. A member of the Texas State team from San Marcos boated a 5-pounder and it was the largest reported. Those guys were culling by 1 p.m., as was the Auburn team of Shaye Baker and David Parker. Of course, many of the boats are out of range or just keeping mum about their catches. All will be revealed starting at 4, and set up the competition heading into the next two days.

FLW College Championship

10:30 a.m.

The action has slowed in the FLW College Championship. We're with the Hampton Sydney College team and the guys are fishing docks. It's slow going so far. The Ohio State team came out strong and had about 9 pounds in the boat within an hour or so. But now they've gone quiet. I'm sharing a boat with Nick Tate and Phillip Hopper of the host University of Tennesse team. Fort Loudon Lake, where the tourney I taking place, is their home waters and they wish they were competing instead of just watching. I told them that the home water advantage wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

Colin Moore

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm on the way to Knoxville, heading to the first-ever Collegiate Bass World Championship. The tournament begins Saturday morning and will include 25 two-man teams from colleges and universities around the country. This is an event that you have to qualify for to get in, so it pits the very best young bass anglers from the college ranks against each other. It should be exciting, and I hope to see you there.