AUBURN, Ala. Sept. 8, 2011 – The University of Georgia team of Randy Tolbert, Jr. of Rome, Ga., and Chase Simmemon of Alto, Ga., took the day-one lead at the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeast Division Regional Championship hosted by Auburn University on Lake Harding Thursday with five bass weighing 10 pounds even. The team holds a 1-pound, 7-ounce lead over their nearest competitor, Clemson University. Teams are fishing for a top award of $50,000 to be split between the university and the university’s bass fishing club – $12,500 and a Ranger 177TR with a 90-horsepower outboard wrapped in school colors for the bass club and $12,500 for their school.

“We started off and caught three in the first 15 or 20 minutes in a little place we found to catch a limit,” said Tolbert, a senior fisheries and aquaculture major. “We didn’t catch a limit there, though. We moved on to catch some bigger fish, and it was a grind all day long. But we managed to catch our five and even cull a couple of times.”

“We started the day fishing offshore trying to catch an early limit, but we decided to swing for the fence for a big bite and targeted largemouth in shallow water,” said Simmemon, a junior wildlife biology and fisheries and aquaculture major.

Tolbert said the team will employ the same strategy Friday but may not stick with that plan if they make it to the final day of competition. Neither teammate would reveal what baits they used to take the early lead or how they would change their strategy if they make it to Saturday’s final five.

Rounding out the top 10 teams are:

  • 2nd: Clemson University – Andy Wicker, Pomaria, S.C., and Harold Turner, Sumter, S.C. (five bass, 8-9)
  • 3rd: Kennesaw State University – Chris Ellis, Acworth, Ga., and Brinson Roland, Powder Springs, Ga. (five bass, 7-12)
  • 4th: Kennesaw State University – Thomas Frink, Woodstock, Ga., and Justin Marlow, Kennesaw, Ga. (five bass, 7-9)
  • 5th: University of Florida – Travis Fledderman, Gainesville, Fla., and Mark Gipson, Niceville, Fla. (five bass, 7-5)
  • 6th: Georgia Southern – Wesley Maples, Rocky Face, Ga., and Jed Thigpen, Statesboro, Ga. (five bass, 7-4)
  • 7th: Auburn University – Jordan Lee, Vinemont, Ala., and Matt Lee, Auburn, Ala. (five bass, 6-9)
  • 8th: South Alabama – Taylor Ramey, Mobile, Ala., and John McGraw, Hattiesburg, Miss. (four bass, 5-1)
  • 9th: LaGrange College – Torre Pike, Flat Rock, Ala., and Ryan Wakenigg, Cataula, Ga. (two bass, 5-1)
  • 10th: UAB – Patrick Townes, Cullman, Ala., and Taylor Mardis, Oneonta, Ala. (four bass, 4-6)

Anglers will take off from Po-Boy Landing located at 158 County Road 335 in Salem, Ala., at 7 a.m. daily. Weigh-in will be held at Ag Heritage Park located at 411 South Donahue St. in Auburn, Ala., beginning at 4 p.m. Friday and at 3 p.m. or upon completion of the Auburn University vs. Mississippi State Football game Saturday. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.

Auburn University will also be hosting a College Fishing Festival throughout the three-day tournament. Students and fishing fans alike will be treated to 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 festival will take place at Ag Heritage Park from 2-4 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. until the kickoff of the football game on Saturday.

A National Guard Soldier Appreciation Tournament will also be held Saturday. Takeoff will be at 7 a.m. at Po-Boy Landing and weigh-in will be at 3 p.m. (subject to end of football game) at Ag Heritage Park.

The top five teams from each regional advance to the national championship where the first-place team will win $100,000 with $25,000 of that for their school and $50,000 cash and a Ranger 177TR bass boat wrapped in school colors and a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard for their fishing club.

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.

Coverage of the Southeast Regional Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors,” will air Oct. 23 from 1 – 2 p.m. ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.

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

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