School is out for the summer for the majority of college students across the country, but for 136 collegiate bass anglers, the biggest test of the year still lies ahead of them.
Sixty-eight two-angler teams representing 49 colleges and universities are doing their homework in preparation for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship to be held on Chatuge Reservoir in northeast Georgia Aug. 1-3. Up for grabs are scholarships, school bragging rights and a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
The college bass fishing championship will mark several “firsts.” This will be the first time in its eight-year history that the event will be held outside the state of Arkansas, the first time for a Carhartt College Series weigh-in to take place on a college campus and the first time a team from outside the United States will compete in the championship.
Since the inception of the college bass tournament program in 2006, the National Championship has been held in Little Rock, Ark. This year, Young Harris College in Young Harris, Ga., will host the championship competitors, including a team from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico.
Teams qualified through a series of regional championships or at the first-ever Wild Card tournament on Pickwick Lake, June 14-15. The Wild Card served as the anglers’ last shot at securing a National Championship berth.
Several schools will send more than one team to the championship. Bethel University in Mackenzie, Tenn., which offers scholarships to outstanding young anglers, will be represented by five teams, and New Mexico State University is sending four teams.
Once the anglers make their way onto Chatuge Reservoir and the National Championship begins, the entire field will compete for two days to determine which teams can weigh in the heaviest five-bass daily limits. The field will be cut to the Top 5 teams for the final round, after which the Carhartt College Series National champions will be crowned.
In addition, the Top 4 teams in the championship will advance to the Carhartt College Series Classic Bracket, which will be held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Elite Series post-season tournament: Toyota All-Star Week, Sept 27-29 in Muskegon, Mich. In the Classic Bracket competition, teammates compete individually for one berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic to be held Feb. 21-23 in Birmingham, Ala.
In the 2012 championship, the final two survivors in the single-elimination fish-off were teammates — and brothers — representing Auburn University in Alabama. Matt Lee outfished his brother, Jordan, and won the right to compete in the 2013 Classic in Tulsa, Okla. The Lee brothers will again represent Auburn in the upcoming College Championship. This time, however, they’re not teammates.
Image courtesy Bassmaster