College basketball has March Madness; college bass fishing has the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. And it starts today in Little Rock, Ark. This is the moment that 110 college anglers have been working toward all year. On Friday, one college team will win the National Championship; and on Sunday, one college angler will earn a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic next February in Tulsa, Okla.
What an awesome opportunity these college anglers have! Being one of the lucky college anglers that places well in the Championship and has a chance to compete to qualify for the Classic is not an easy task. First, they have to compete in multiple qualifying tournaments against their teammates to determine who will represent their college in the regionals. At the regionals, the college teams compete against other colleges in their region. Only the top schools from each regional receive an invite to the National Championship.
The National Championship is an extremely tough tournament, and I really believe the best college anglers will rise to the top. On the first day, the anglers compete on the Arkansas River. On Day Two, the venue moves to nearby reservoir Lake Maumelle. After that, the field will be cut to the top 5 teams and moved to a Mystery Lake for Day Three.
After the National Championship team is crowned, the field will be cut to the top four teams, and those teams will be divided so that eight individual college anglers will compete in a bracket format tournament for the single Classic berth. At the end of five grueling days of competition, one college angler will earn a chance to fish the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
Sound tough? You bet! These college anglers have to find and catch fish in different fisheries each day. I have fished the Arkansas River and Lake Maumelle in July before, and both are challenging. The fish on the river group up in real small areas and are hard to find. On Maumelle, you can catch fish all over the lake, but catching one over 13 or 14 inches is a chore. I would guess the Mystery Lake will be a small lake with a little better fishing than the Arkansas River and Maumelle; but with no practice, who knows what will happen?
Thinking about this tournament gets me excited. I almost want to reenroll just so I can be a part of it. This Championship was the highlight of my summer when I was fishing collegiately, and I know 110 college anglers competing this week feel the same. I wish all the teams luck, and we should keep our eyes on these guys. I bet several of these anglers will do what I did and go from College Series to the Elite Series. I would say “Go Cats,” but sadly University of Kentucky didn’t make it. I told you it was tough!
Remember to chase your dreams!