The Auburn University team of Jordan Lee and Shane Powell, both of Auburn, Ala., took the lead on day one of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Championship presented by Evinrude on Lake Wylie Thursday with a five-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 2 ounces. The team holds a 7-ounce lead over their nearest competitor, Indian River State College. Twenty college teams from around the region are participating in the tournament and competing for a Ranger Z117 bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a berth in the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.

“We are so excited, it was such a fun day,” said Powell, an undecided sophomore. “We caught 25 or 30 bass today, lots of 14-inchers, but it was fun! We have come in second so many times, I’m hoping we can make this one happen.

According the Auburn team, they are fishing off-shore ledges using reaction baits. During pre-practice they tried fishing shallow but couldn’t get any good bites so decided to concentrate their efforts off the bank. The key for them was covering a lot of water, staying only 15 to 30 minutes on any given spot depending on how good the bite was. They also indicated that the bass are grouping by size.

“We kept moving,” said Lee a junior in business marketing. “We didn’t save any of our spots, we hit them all. We had a pretty slow morning, I don’t think our bite turned on until about 9 a.m., but then we got a flurry where we caught four of the fish we weighed within a half hour.

“We tried fishing some docks during practice,” continued Lee. “But the shad just didn’t seem to be there and we weren’t having any luck. We might try some shallow stuff tomorrow since the bite didn’t really get turned on until about 9, see if we can get a bonus 3-pounder, but it won’t be our primary pattern. We haven’t caught a 3-pounder the entire time we have been here so I would be surprised if we get one tomorrow. They’re tough to find.

The top 10 teams are:

1st: Auburn University – Jordan Lee and Shane Powell, both of Auburn, Ala., five bass, 12-2

2nd: Indian River State College – Kyle Monti and Mike Cornell, both of Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 11-11

3rd:  University of North Carolina-Charlotte – Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Waters, Denver, N.C., five bass, 10-13

4th:  University of Alabama – Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., and Logan Johnson, Tuscaloosa, Ala., five bass, 9-14

5th:  Tennessee Tech – Joe Slagle, Bristol, Tenn., and Matthew Clay, Madisonville, Tenn., four bass, 8-13

6th:  Auburn University – Matt Lee and Chris Seals, both of Auburn, Ala., five bass, 8-0

7th:  Auburn University of Montgomery – Dalton Darnell and Tyler Strock, both of Deatsville, Ala., five bass, 7-15

8th:  Wake Forest University – Graham Rich, Winston Salem, N.C., and Thomas Gravitt, King, N.C., five bass, 7-15

9th: University of Central Florida –  Miles Burghoff, Orlando, Fla., and Casey O’Donnell, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 7-13

10th: Seminole State College – Neal Combs, Osteen, Fla., and Kevin Lucas, Orlando, Fla., four bass, 6-13

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Anglers will take off from Ebenezer Park located at 4490 Boatshore Road in Rock Hill, S.C., at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 4875 Old York Road in Rock Hill, S.C., 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 Friday from 2–4 p.m. and Saturday from noon–4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes 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.

Four regular-season qualifying events were held in each conference – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western – the top five teams from each regular-season event qualified for one of five conference championships. The top five teams from each conference championship advance to the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.

College Fishing is free to enter and FLW 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 Southeastern Conference Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 23 from 1-2 p.m. EST. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

Image courtesy FLW Outdoors

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