National Guard FLW College Fishing is Headed to Lake Okeechobee for the Season Opener


National Guard FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Okeechobee Jan. 21 for the first of four stops in the Southeast Division. Forty college teams from the across the region will be competing for a top award of $5,000.

“These college kids are going to have a blast,” said FLW Tour pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla. “They are going to catch a bunch of fish and have a great time doing it. The fishing is as good as it was last year, if you can believe that. Spawning season is going to make for some phenomenal fishing — you’ll probably see some more records broken.

“It is going to be typical Florida fishing — swimbaits like the Gambler Big EZ are going to be popular, you’ll see some guys flipping into reeds and isolated areas and Senkos will work for the back of the boat. One of the guys will be able to sink (the Senko) into a hole or reef and be sure to catch something. The key is going to be finding a sweet spot. Everyone is going to be using similar techniques and baits, but it’s the team that finds the honey hole that will win. I would say it’s going to take in the mid- to upper-20-pound range to win. Maybe even 30 pounds.”

Anglers will take off from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 West Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 1:30 p.m. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.

Schools competing in the Lake Okeechobee tournament, which is being hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism Development Council, include:

  • Auburn University-Montgomery – Corey Pierce, Prattville, Ala., and Thomas Frink, Auburn, Ala.
  • Augusta State University – Kiwanas Andrews, Augusta, Ga., and Wesley Steinmeyer, Jr., Appling, Ga.
  • Austin Peay – Billy Lyons, Vanleer, Tenn., and Taylor Genz, Indianmound, Tenn.
  • Bethel University – Matthew Palmer and Myles Palmer, both of McKenzie, Tenn.
  • Clemson University – Matthew Garvin, York, S.C., and Richard Chalupa, Seneca, S.C.
  • Columbus State University – Brad Davis, Columbus, Ga., and Aldrene Manasan, Fortson, Ga.
  • Daytona State College – Thomas Oltorik and Kevin Hunter, both of Deland, Fla.
  • Elon University – William Gilbert, Elon, N.C., and Chris Vigliotta, Beverly, Mass.
  • Florida Gulf Coast – Tommy Edwards, Jacksonville, Fla., and Philip Nelson, Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Florida State University – Justin Mahon and Jason Mahon, both of Port Charlotte, Fla.
  • Gardner-Webb University – Randal Lockhart, Kings Mountain, N.C., and Marvin Caleb Williams, Wilkesboro, N.C.
  • Georgia College – Chancey Gray, Covington, Ga., and Grant Kelly, McDonough, Ga.
  • Georgia Southern – Justin Hewlett, Statesboro, Ga., and Geoffrey Hill, Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Georgia Southwestern State University – Chandler Ray, Americus, Ga., and Ryan Wakenigg, Cataula, Ga.
  • Kennesaw State University – Eric Fisher and Justin Marlow, both of Kennesaw, Ga.
  • LaGrange College – Torre Pike, Flat Rock, Ala., and James Yancey, LaGrange, Ga.
  • Lander University – Richie Dixon, Chesterfield, S.C., and Josh Bryan, Chappells, S.C.
  • Middle Tennessee State – Matt Allen, Lewisburg, Tenn., and Andrew Agee, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • Mississippi College – Will Hedgepeth, Clinton, Miss., and Chip Wells, Columbus, Miss.
  • Mississippi State – Shane Howington, Hokes Bluff, Ala., and Chesley Heatherly, Vernon, Ala.
  • North Alabama – Shane Jewell, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and Nathan Woodruff, Iuka, Miss.
  • North Carolina State University – Clint Benbow, Statesville, N.C., and Ethan Cox, West End, N.C.
  • Santa Fe College – Cameron Petras, Gainesville, Fla., and Stephen Carlisle, Gainesville, Fla.
  • Seminole State College – Neal Combs, Osteen, Fla., and Kevin Lucas, Orlando, Fla.
  • South Alabama – Chase Lee, Robertsdale, Ala., and Taylor Ramey, Mobile, Ala.
  • Southern Mississippi – Dax Graham, Hattiesburg, Miss., and Christopher Warshauer, Picayune, Miss.
  • Southern Polytechnic – Zachary Dixon, Kennesaw, Ga., and Edward Thomas, Gainesville, Ga.
  • Tennessee Tech – Chris Thomas and Ryan Harpe, both of Cookeville, Tenn.
  • University of Alabama – Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., and Logan Johnson, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
  • University of Alabama-Birmingham – Patrick Townes, Cullman, Ala., and Taylor Mardis, Oneonta, Ala.
  • University of Central Florida – Miles Burghoff, Orlando, Fla., and Casey O’Donnell, Bradenton, Fla.
  • University of Florida – Rhett Rampi, Orlando, Fla., and Kyle Smith, Gainesville, Fla.
  • University of Montevallo – Joseph Handley, Hueytown, Ala., and Joseph Fuller, Brierfield, Ala.
  • University of North Carolina-Charlotte – Eric Self, Lawndale, N.C., and Tyler Beam, Cherryville, N.C.
  • University of North Carolina-Wilmington – Michael Thomas, Wingate, N.C., and Kyle Caruolo, Cary, N.C.
  • University of South Carolina – Jordan Johnson, Warrenville, S.C., and Jake Hostetter, Elgin, S.C.
  • University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – Parker Bacon, Nashville, Tenn., and Taylor Bolton, Soddy Daisy, Tenn.
  • Valdosta State University – Buster McCloud, Valdosta, Ga., and Matthew Middleton, Valdosta, Ga.
  • Wake Forest University – Ryan Casey and Brad Silver, both of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
  • Young Harris College – Chandler White, Powder Springs, Ga., and Brad Rutherford, Lavonia, Ga.

The top five teams from each tournament will qualify for the regional championship where the first-place team wins a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors. The top five teams from each regional tournament advance to the national championship where the first-place team wins $25,000 for their school and $50,000 cash plus a Ranger 177TR bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard wrapped in school colors for their fishing club.

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.


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