Collegiate anglers from across the country are celebrating the end of another long and challenging school year with their favorite past time this week…bass fishing.
Official practice gets underway today for the largest and most anticipated annual collegiate fishing event, the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. 375 student anglers, representing 105 different colleges and 187 teams, have secured berths into the annual event, and today is the BIG day, kicking off the BIG week.
They are finally wetting their lines in hopes of discovering the secrets to unlocking Pickwick’s phenomenal bass fishing. The secrets that will leave them with the rare distinction of National Champions.
Throughout the week, the Association of Collegiate Anglers and their partners will be providing a continuous stream of content about this prestigious event. To get things started, take a look at The Road to the Championship, penned by Pete Robbins, as well as other pieces of interest to the competitors, their friends, families, and fans.
Road to the Championship – Part 1
Collegiate Bass Championship Will Build on Last Year’s Awesome Florence Debut
If the 2013 Boat US Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship merely matched the enthusiasm and success of the 2012 event, it would still be the greatest collegiate bass fishing event around. On the other hand, every indication is that this month’s event will exceed last year’s huge success, and that’s cause for celebration.
From May 20 to 24, the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) will welcome nearly two hundred teams, hailing from 26 states and Canada, and representing over 100 colleges, to battle it out on Pickwick Lake for 2013 bragging rights. They’ll come from the north, south, east and west, from big institutions and from small ones, but no matter who comes out on top this event will likely be a slugfest. Pickwick is the hottest lake in the southeast right now, consistently pushing out double-digit bass and limits that easily exceed 20 pounds.
While the tournament will be the centerpiece of the week’s events, the competition alone is just the tip of the iceberg.
Road to the Championship – Part 2
Last Year’s Champs Reflect on Pickwick and their TBF Membership
As this year’s Boat US Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship approaches, last year’s champions, Ethan Cox and Ben Dziwulski of the North Carolina State BassPack, can’t help but feel a little bit wistful.
“I really wish I was going back to Pickwick,” Dziwulski said. “College fishing was the reason I went to NC State and it was an awesome ride.”
Alas, both anglers have graduated and moved on in terms of their fishing careers, but each finds himself dreaming of the big brown and green fish that inhabit the hottest lake in the southeast and visualizing the offshore ledges they plied for their victory. The 10 bass they weighed in totaled a whopping 45.60 pounds, allowing them to beat the second place team by over four and a half pounds. “That gave me a new confidence,” Dziwulski added. “I want to fish professionally at some point and that was the perfect ending to a successful college career.”
Road to the Championship – Part 3
Cabela’s Pro Preview: Pickwick Will Present a Wealth of Decisions
When nearly 200 teams of collegiate bass anglers blast off into Pickwick Lake on Friday for the first of two days of competition, all of them will have full access to the riches of the hottest lake in the southeast, if not the country. That’s where the similarities will end for many of them, though. The beauty of Pickwick, explained Elite Series veteran Jeff Kriet, is that there are options galore and anglers can pursue their angling passion.
“The last two times I’ve been there I’ve finished 13th each time,” he said. “Deep one time and shallow one time.”
Of course many of the biggest schools of fish are on or near the ledges that have made the TVA lakes famous and those skilled at structure fishing will certainly try their hand at them, but that’s not the only game in town.
“It’s been such a weird year, with all of the rain, that there should be a really good flipping bite in Coffee Slough or even on the main lake,” Kriet said. “I’d encourage the fishermen to fish to their strengths.”
Those collegians who have experience with current might want to fish not only on the ledges, but also in the tailrace waters, where a favorable generation schedule can lead to winning but an adverse one might force them to scramble late in the day.
No matter where or how they fish, though, Kriet said that current flow would be a critical element of his game plan.
“Even for the shallow guys any time the current is moving that’ll help,” he said. “You want to look for little cut-throughs that will pull water. Little bitty washes and chutes through islands are also good. Pay attention to the generation schedule or you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You need to know when it’ll be moving and make sure that you’re on your best stuff at that time.”
He expects it will take a minimum of 15 to 18 pounds a day to be in the hunt for a check, and the possibility for five-fish limits in the mid-twenties is substantial. He said that he’d expect to have a limit of cookie-cutter fish in the three-pound class and then work to upgrade with a kicker or two. If anglers are catching fish in the two pound class consistently, he’d recommend that they move, since the fish on Pickwick tend to group up by size.
For teams who are comfortable with a variety of techniques and styles, he’d recommend that they consider a “one-two punch” – “Start early shallow with a frog or a spinnerbait and then move out to the ledges later in the day.”
If you want even more details on the pattern and bite, check out:
The BassGold Scouting Report
Judging by the weights coming across the scales at Pickwick the last couple of years, anglers at the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Championship should have a great time there.
Before getting into what BassGold says about that lake this time of year, consider the following:
BassGold.com classifies Pickwick as a “riverine reservoir,” which means it’s an impoundment that retains river characteristics, notably a narrow shape and reliance on current. Riverine reservoirs can be tougher to fish and pattern than other water types, but again, Pickwick is looking anything but tough lately. When you read what follows, bear in mind a few things:
1. Weather always plays a role. BassGold crunches many tournament patterns over several years to provide its recommendations, so it covers most weather scenarios, but you have to factor in current conditions and your fishing experience.
2. This is just a quick overview of the info BassGold has. You can get more gold by applying what you know to what BassGold shows.
3. BassGold’s data is based on thousands of tournament patterns, which means it’s not what should or might work, it’s what definitely has worked. Have confidence in it even if it’s counterintuitive. BassGold’s pattern info was second-guessed several times on the Bassmaster Elite Series last year, and ended up being right every time.
Now, with all that said…are you ready?
Even if you can’t come to Florence yourself, there’s an opportunity for unparalleled virtual participation, because in addition to setting records for overall participation and the depth and diversity of the field, this tournament will have a media presence unlike any other college fishing event to date. It will include a “From the Water Blog,” powered by Dodge Ram, which will start to transmit on Monday and reach a fevered pitch on the competition days. Daily photo galleries from the cameras of professional photographers will be posted on Facebook and the ACA website. Weigh-ins will be streamed live and details can be found on CollegiateBassChampionship.com
“With photos, regular updates from the water, and a live weigh-in, we’re getting the fans as close to Florence, Alabama as we possibly can,” said Tournament Director Wade Middleton.
Schedule of Events
Monday, May 20 – Official Practice
Tuesday, May 21 – Practice & Yamaha Night*
Wednesday, May 22 – Practice & Registration Banquet*
Thursday, May 23 – Day One Competition
Friday, May 24 – Day Two Competition
*Denotes mandatory activities for participants