The University of Alabama team of Logan Johnson of Jasper, Ala., and Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., brought a five-bass limit to the scales Saturday weighing 10 pounds even to maintain their lead at the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Beaver Lake. Their two-day cumulative weight of 10 bass weighing 28 pounds, 8 ounces, gives them a slim 7-ounce lead over the second-place team from Angelo State University, who has a two-day cumulative weight of 10 bass for 28-1, heading into the final day of competition.
Twenty-five teams from across the country have competed in 20 qualifying events and five conference championship tournaments, and the top five teams from each conference are competing for the title of national champion in this three-day nationally televised event.
“The whole entire lake seemed like it changed today,” said Connell, a marketing major. “We did the exact same thing that we did yesterday, but the area that we caught 18 pounds in on Friday only produced one keeper today. The water really cleared up on us. That’s the way that this lake is – it’s a wildcard. We didn’t even catch a fish until 10 a.m.”
The Crimson Tide team estimated that they only caught seven or eight bass throughout the entire day. They threw five different baits, but said that a Strike King KVD jerkbait was their main producer.
“We’re fishing in the mid-river area,” Connell continued. “We’re targeting the creek mouths, and fishing fairly shallow – around 10 feet deep.”
“We are all about changing it up,” added Johnson, an advertising major. “If something looks right, we’ll stop and fish it. We’re looking for the right water color and clarity, and the wind factor. We fish anything that looks good.”
When asked about their ideal weather conditions for the final day of competition, the Alabama team said they would love to see it windy and nasty.
“Without the wind today, it was tough. Real tough,” said Johnson. “If we get the right conditions and the right bites tomorrow, we can seal this win.”
“We’ve been hustling and grinding all day long,” Connell went on to say. “I’m sun-burnt and I’m tired. But tomorrow might be the biggest day of my life, at least fishing-wise. We’re just going to go out and fish hard and hope for the best.”
The top five teams that made the cut to the final day of competition on Beaver Lake are:
1st: University Of Alabama – Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., and Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala. (10 bass, 28-8)
2nd: Angelo State University – Ethan George, San Angelo, Texas, and Josh Seale, Breckenridge, Texas (10 bass, 28-1)
3rd: University Of Louisiana-Monroe – Paul Clark, Monroe, La., and Brett Preuett, Pineville, La. (10 bass, 27-15)
4th: Auburn University – Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., and Shane Powell, Dothan, Ala. (10 bass, 26-5)
5th: University of North Carolina-Charlotte – Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Waters, Denver, N.C. (10 bass, 26-5)
The final takeoff for the national championship will be from Prairie Creek Park located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers, Ark., at 7 a.m. Sunday. Weigh-in will be held at Walmart, located at 2110 W. Walnut St. in Rogers at 4 p.m.
FLW will also be hosting the College Fishing Expo, which runs from Noon-4 p.m. Sunday at Walmart. Activities include a sports zone, tailgate games, sponsor giveaways and a Ranger boat simulator.
The national championship awards the top team a $30,000 prize package, including a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower engine and an entry into the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The team member fishing as a pro in the Forrest Wood Cup also receives the use of a wrapped Ranger Boat and Chevy Tow Vehicle. All prize money earned in the Forrest Wood Cup goes directly to the individual who earns it. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., and will offer the collegiate anglers the opportunity to compete for a top award of $500,000.
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.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors