Kentucky Lake is rich in fishing and tournament history, and this weekend it’ll serve as a crucial battleground for the Cabela’s School of the Year race. The ACA Collegiate Bass Fishing Open runs April 18 – 20, and it is sure to have a big impact on the final standings of the rankings. Eight of the top ten schools in the country are represented in the field, the fish are biting, and the Open is the only event in the country to allow multiple boats to work together throughout the day as a team. One team that is particularly excited to get started on Kentucky Lake this week is the Georgetown College Tigers, the newest team to top the rankings.
Georgetown College, a small, residential, co-educational liberal arts college located to the north of Lexington, Kentucky has been ranked number one before, but it was early in the race, and it didn’t carry the same weight as it does today as the race draws to a close. Georgetown College isn’t a Division One powerhouse accustomed to top rankings, nor has it been a storied college fishing program, not yet anyways. The Tigers are intent on changing that last part and becoming recognized as a force to be reckoned with on the water and it has been years in the making.
As far as their climb to the top, they jumped out to the early lead based on strong finishes with FLW College Fishing, backed that up by hosting their own event, the Bluegrass Battle, and headed into fall with a narrow lead. The lead diminished as other teams earned points, but the Tigers stayed within striking distance of the top heading into spring fishing. Now they are making their move. A recent top 10 finish in the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash, followed by a top 5 finish in the College B.A.S.S. Eastern Regional, have catapulted them ahead of the Warhawks of the University of Louisiana Monroe.
In discussing the growth of the club and recent accomplishments, Clay Elliot, a senior and founding member of the club, commented, “It has been an awesome ride for all of us. We’ve gone from wide-eyed and a bit clueless about collegiate competition four years ago, to a group of confident and seasoned anglers. We knew going into this year it was meant to be a great one for our club and we’ve stayed focused on the race. We’re all fishing well and we’re fishing a lot of events in hopes of being crowned the school of the year.”
They are certainly doing what it takes. Seniors, and cousins, Nick Huff and Mike Huff are making their way to Beaver Lake to compete in the FLW National Championship, while teammates Clay Elliot, Shawn Combs, John Hunter, and Vincent Timperio are heading to Kentucky Lake for the ACA Collegiate Bass Fishing Open, both of which are Cabela’s School of the Year sanctioned events.
Clay went on to add, “Nick and Mike spent their spring break on Beaver to figure a few things out, and as far as the rest of us and Kentucky Lake… we’re good to go. Vincent and I won a FLW qualifier there last spring and collectively we’ve fished a lot of events on the lakes, so we’re pumped to head into this weekend as number one. We should be able to accumulate some good points between the two events and hopefully put some distance between us and the rest of the teams.”
With only 80 points separating the top five teams in the race, they definitely still have some work to do, but their aggressive strategy may pay off. Of all the teams in the top five, the Tigers are the only team to be represented at both sanctioned events this weekend. The second place University of Louisiana Monroe is only fishing Beaver Lake and Arkansas Tech, Murray State, and Dallas Baptist University, third through fifth respectively, are all fishing Kentucky Lake.
They also have to worry about sixth place University of North Alabama. They are coming off a dominating performance at the Cabela’s Collegiate Big Bass Bash and some of the UNA Lions have experience on Kentucky Lake. That experience and the number of UNA teams on the water are sure to make things interesting. The fish are shallow, they are biting, and all indications are it will be a record setting event. Which team(s) set records is still to be determined…
Competition takes place April 19-20, with the onsite registration, dinner, and activities to be held Thursday, April 18, 2013. Daily weigh-ins will be held at Paris Landing Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20. Collegiate fishing fans, family members, and friends of competitors can follow the action by visiting CollegiateBassChampionship.com and Facebook.com/CollegiateBassChampionship. Televised coverage will be seen on NBC Sports Outdoors, and available to over 79 million households.
The ACA Cabela’s School of the Year Program awards points to each competing school based on their finish in sanctioned events in relation to field size. In addition to competition points, teams can also earn points for participating in conservation projects submitted to the Berkley Conservation Institute through the ACA, as well as hosting their own events. Fans can find current sanctioned events, program details, and current standings all on CollegiateBassChampionship.com.
Image courtesy Cabela's