The 2017 YETI FLW College Fishing tournament season will kick off this Saturday, Jan. 14 at Lake Seminole for the first of three regular-season stops in the Southeastern Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth into the 2018 College Fishing National Championship.
Anglers will be greeted by unseasonably warm temperatures, even by Lake Seminole standards. The high temperature on Saturday is forecast to be in the upper 70s.
“We’ve had a lot of rain in the region which could throw the competitors a curveball,” said FLW Tour pro Clayton Batts, of Macon. “They’re going to catch a lot of fish, but the weights in this tournament will greatly depend on how muddy the lake is.
“If I were competing, I’d start out fishing grass on the lower end of the lake using a natural-colored jerkbait or red lipless crankbait,” continued Batts. “If that wasn’t firing, I’d try the Fish Pond Drain backwaters, where the water tends to be clearer. I’d use a drop-shot rig with a soft plastic in the timber, or a lipless crankbait and jerkbait toward the middle. If they’re in need of a kicker fish, flipping into the grass mats would be their best bet.
“There are also some deep holes to pick apart in the Spring Creek arm,” said Batts. “There’s standing timber embedded in the old river channel where you can catch them on a drop-shot or with a Texas-rigged soft plastic. If the mud stabilizes in those areas, the bass will bite, but if it’s too murky on the day of the tournament, I wouldn’t count on it. Those fish are accustomed to clear water.”
Batts said that the top team will need 12 to 13 pounds to win the event if the water stays dirty, or as much as 25 pounds if the lake clears up.
“If the water gets even a little bit clearer, we could see some gigantic limits brought in,” said Batts.
Anglers will take off from Bainbridge Earle May Boat Basin, located at 100 Boat Basin Circle in Bainbridge, at 7:30 a.m. Weigh-in will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Take-off and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
Schools are allowed to register up until the morning of the tournament. Entries may be made either by phone or at CollegeFishing.com.
Schools currently registered to compete in the Lake Seminole tournament, which is hosted by the Bainbridge Convention & Visitors Bureau, include:
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College – Harrison Barton, Hartwell, Ga., and Andrew Himmelreich, Powder Springs, Ga.
Bryan College – Chandler Fogg and Conner Fogg, both of Kelso, Tenn.
Bryan College – Conner Thompson, Fort Payne, Ala., and Dylan Pritchett, Dayton, Tenn.
Bryan College – Connor Cohran, Dalton, Ga., and Dylan Kear, Clinton, Tenn.
Bryan College – D.J. Barber, Gardendale, Ala., and Matt Brown, Corbin, Ky.
Bryan College – Hunter Thrasher, Kelso, Tenn., and Johnathan Peck, Louisville, Ky.
Bryan College – Jake Lee, Knoxville, Tenn., and Jacob Foutz, Cleveland, Tenn.
Bryan College – Jalen Smith, Dayton, Tenn., and Braden Marshall, Hixson, Tenn.
Bryan College – Nathan Bell, Riceville, Tenn., and Cole Sands, Dayton, Tenn.
Calhoun Community College – Tyler Johnson, Madison, Ala., and Christopher Lupo, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Faulkner University – Stewart Lucas and Austin Finley, both of Wetumpka, Ala.
Florida State University – Joshua Blackburn, Tallahassee, Fla., and Scott Duncan, Orlando, Fla.
Mississippi State University – Andrew Brown, Bordo, Ala., and Cody Peak, Centreville, Miss.
Polk State College – Jerod Gadd, Bartow, Fla., and Austin Bell, Winter Haven, Fla.
Stetson University – Braden Mattingly, Perry, Fla., and Collin Settnek, Marienville, Pa.
University of Georgia – Benjamin Hallowell, Athens, Ga., and Garrett Stone, Sandy Springs, Ga.
University of Georgia – Wesley Griner, Leesburg, Ga., and Nathan Ragsdale, Fayetteville, Ga.
University of North Carolina-Greensboro – Bradley Lovings, Kernersville, N.C., and Landon Whicker, Walkertown, N.C.
University of South Carolina – Dylan Allison, Inman, S.C., and Kevin Szczech, Cranford, N.J.
University of South Carolina – Nick Schwarzenberg, Frederick, Md., and Zack Catoe, Lancaster, S.C.
University of West Alabama – Austin Tubbs, Selma, Ala., and Trent Humber, Caledonia, Miss.
University of West Alabama – Charles Lewis, Linden, Ala., and Andrew Warbington, Coker, Ala.
University of West Alabama – Jay Cowan, Butler, Ala., and Andrew Martin, Catherine, Ala.
Wallace State Community College – Alan Faught, Warrior, Ala., and Austin Scott, Fairview, Ala.
Wallace State Community College – Joshua Butts, Springville, Ala., and Reid Conner, Gardendale, Ala.
Wallace State Community College – Logan Ledbetter and Miller Spivey, both of Tyler, Ala.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top-10 teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top-20 teams from the annual FLW College Fishing Open will advance to the 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a college fishing club that is recognized by their school.