National Guard FLW College Fishing is headed to Santee Cooper April 21 for the third of four stops in the Southeastern Conference. Forty college teams will be competing for a top award of $5,000 and a berth in the Southeastern Conference Championship tournament.
“I think the winning team will have a weight in the upper 20-pound range,” said Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. “Santee Cooper has been pretty good lately. There’s been a few 30-pound bags weighed in this year, so it would not surprise me at all to see a team hit the 30-pound mark.
“The weather has been extremely warm down here and the fish are a lot farther along than they usually are for this time of year,” Gagliardi said. “There may be a few stragglers left on the beds, but I doubt that there will be any spawning fish left. Most of the fish in this tournament will be in a predominantly post-spawn pattern.
“You can always catch them shallow this time of year on the trees,” Gagliardi continued. “After the spawn, those fish just start pulling out and heading to all of those big trees and stumps out near the spawning grounds. Some teams will catch fish by flipping a jig. Other teams may have luck by fishing a Senko around the stumps and structure. Depending on how far along the grass was, I might target that as well.”
When asked for specific advice for college anglers, Gagliardi recommended slowing down and targeting deeper staging areas.
“I would find the deeper stops and banks close to the back ends of the spawning flats and back-water ponds,” he said. “And be careful out there! There are so many stumps and trees out there that it’s very easy to run into something on Santee Cooper.”
Anglers will take off from the John C. Land III Landing located at County Road 514-260 (Greenall Road) in Summerton, S.C., at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Weigh-in will be held at the take off site beginning at 1:00 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
Schools competing in the Santee Cooper tournament, which is hosted by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, include:
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College – Steven King, Alpharetta, Ga., and Bryan Price, Canton Ga.
Auburn University-Montgomery – Tyler Strock, Prattville, Ala., and Dalton Darnell, Millbrook, Ala.
Augusta State University – Wesley Steinmeyer Jr. and Shane Wyatt, both of Appling, Ga.
Austin Peay State University – Chase Hunnell, Ashland City, Tenn., and Ethan Ingle, Burlington, N.C.
Bethel University – Matthew Palmer, McKenzie, Tenn., and Myles Palmer, Alexander, Ala.
Clemson University – Andy Wicker, Pomaria, S.C., and Alan Horwatt, Central, S.C.
Columbus State University – Brad Davis, Winder, Ga., and Aldrene Manasan, Highland Falls, N.Y.
Daytona State College – Thomas Oltorik, Deland, Fla., and Jason Frazee, Debary, Fla.
East Carolina University – Nathan Hooks, Cary, N.C., and Brad Kimrey, Greenville, N.C.
Elon University – William Gilbert, Manchester, Vt., and Graig Zurn, Elon, N.C.
Florida Gulf Coast University – Thomas Edwards, Jacksonville, Fla., and Garrett Farmer, Richmond, Va.
Gardner-Webb University – Nikki Hames, Gaffney, S.C., and Jessica Dowling, Granite Falls, N.C.
Georgia College – Chancey Gray, Milledge, Ga., and Grant Kelly, McDonough, Ga.
Georgia Southern University – Justin Hewlett, North August, S.C., and Geoffrey Hill, Kennesaw, Ga.
Georgia Southwestern State University – Ryan Wakenigg, Harris County, Ga., and Chandler Ray, Arlington, Ga.
Kennesaw State University – Tony Summers, Kennesaw, Ga., and Nicholas Friedrich, Acworth, Ga.
LaGrange College – Torre Pike, Flat Rock, Ala., and James Yancey, LaGrange, Ga.
Lander University – Richie Dixon, Chesterfield, S.C., and Josh Bryan, Chappells, S.C.
Middle Tennessee State University – Nolen Spencer, Bell Buckle, Tenn., and Tyler Barnes, Nashville, Tenn.
Mississippi State University – Shane Howington, Hokes Bluff, Ala., and Chesley Heatherley, Vernon, Ala.
North Carolina State University – Paul Owens, Raleigh, N.C., and Kevin Beverley, Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
Seminole State College – Neal Combs, Osteen, Fla., and Kevin Lucas, Oppopka, Fla.
Southern Polytechnic State University – Zachary Dixon, Rome, Ga., and Edward Thomas, Cumming, Ga.
Tennessee Wesleyan College – John Higdon and Ben Graves, both of Athens, Tenn.
Troy University – Connor Bedsole, Arab, Ala., and Win Grant, Troy, Ala.
University of Alabama – Logan Johnson, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala.
University of Alabama-Birmingham – Patrick Townes, Gardendale, Ala., and Taylor Mardis, Oneonta, Ala.
University of Central Florida – Chris Bozas, Coral Springs, Fla., and Scott Stone, Lady Lake, Fla.
University of Florida – Rhett Rampi, Orlando, Fla., and Kyle Smith, Gainesville, Fla.
University of Mississippi – Christian Braswell, Gulfport, Miss., and Blake Clark, Brandon, Miss.
University of North Alabama – Zachary Wiggers, Muskegon, Mich., and Robb Young, Rogersville, Ala.
University of North Carolina-Charlotte – Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Waters, Denver, N.C.
University of North Carolina-Wilmington – Kyle Caruolo, Cary, N.C., and Michael Thomas, Wingate, N.C.
University of South Alabama – Taylor Ramey, Purvis, Miss., and Chase Lee, Robertsdale, Ala.
University of South Carolina – Jake Hostetter, Elgin, S.C., and Nicholas Bastug, Whiteville, N.C.
University of Southern Mississippi – Daniel Netterville, Centreville, Miss., and Dax Graham, Hattiesburg, Miss.
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – Parker Bacon, Nashville, Tenn., and Taylor Bolton, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Valdosta State University – Matthew Middleton and Ransom McCloud, both of Valdosta, Ga.
Wake Forest University – Ryan Casey and Brad Silver, both of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
Young Harris College – Joseph Ethridge, Villa Rica, Ga., and Furman Thompson, Clayton, Ga.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in four qualifying events in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top five teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five conference championships. The top five teams from each conference championship will advance to the 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.