It was sunny and warm Thursday for the opening day of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Championship on Lake Dardanelle. At the end of the day, one college team that is no stranger to leading FLW College Fishing events, the Lamar University team of Danny Iles of Evadale, Texas, and Justin Royal of Hemphill, Texas, stood atop the leaderboard with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 12 ounces. 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.

“Today went pretty much according to plan,” said Iles, who has four FLW College victories under his belt. “We had a solid plan coming into this, and we were thinking about 14 to 16 pounds is what we would want today. So we went out and executed pretty well.”

Royal said the team was “specific junk fishing,” meaning they were using a variety of baits and techniques while still focusing on certain areas and features in the water. Royal said the team caught about 15 fish during the course of the day, nine of which were keepers. Iles said the team lost no fish during the first day of competition.

“We’ll catch some here and catch some there,” Royal said. “We’re just moving around. We’ve got one area that’s pretty good that we’re starting on, and we can really catch them there.

“We’re kind of relaxed, but we know we still have to go catch them tomorrow,” Royal added. “Anything can happen. One big fish for a team that had 11 pounds today puts them on top. We know we’re going to have to catch about what we did today to be leading tomorrow.”

The top 10 teams are:

1st: Lamar University – Danny Iles, Evadale, Texas, and Justin Royal, Hemphill, Texas, five bass, 15-12

2nd: LSU-Shreveport – Joseph Landry, Haughton, La., and Gavin Havard, West Monroe, La., five bass, 13-14

3rd:  Angelo State – Ethan George, Breckenridge, Texas, and Josh Seale, San Angelo, Texas, five bass, 12-8

4th:  Texas State University – David Cosner, Austin, Texas, and Jared Brown, San Jose, Calif., five bass, 12-6

5th:  University of Louisiana-Monroe – Paul Clark, Pineville, La., and Brett Preuett, Monroe, La., four bass, 11-8

6th:  University of Louisiana-Monroe – Nick Ladart, Monroe, La., and Brian Eaton, Monroe, La., five bass, 11-5

7th:  Stephen F. Austin – Kyle Turner, Kennedale, Texas, and Robert Platt, Tyler, Texas, five bass, 11-3

8th:  Arkansas Tech University – Reagan Moore, Russellville, Ark., and Evan Barnes, Dierks, Ark., five bass, 10-13

9th: University of Texas-Tyler – Charlie Brown, Tyler, Texas, and Matthew McClellan, Jasper, Texas, two bass, 8-3

10th: Henderson State – Shane Stoddard, Camden, Ark., and Drew Rabb, Hot Springs, Ark., three bass, 7-12

For complete results visit CollegeFishing.com.

Anglers will take off from Lake Dardanelle State Park located at 100 State Park Drive in Russellville, Ark., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 2409 E. Main St. in Russellville 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 Ranger boat simulators, 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 Southern Conference Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 30 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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