YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — For the second year in a row, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship is headed to Chatuge Reservoir out of Hiawassee and Young Harris, Ga.
After what College Series Manager Hank Weldon termed a “tremendously successful” 2013 National Championship at the location, B.A.S.S. decided to not only bring its National Championship back to the area, but to also hold the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket competition on the fishery.
The National Championship will run July 31 through Aug. 2. The entire field will compete on Thursday, July 31, and Friday, Aug. 2, and the Top 5 teams will fish for the National Team Champion title on Saturday, Aug. 2.
After the championship round, the Top 4 teams will be divided up, and each angler will be placed individually into an eight-angler bracket. They will fish for three days, Aug. 3-5, in a single elimination format until only one remains. The winning angler will qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
With so much at stake, collegiate anglers are doing all they can to prepare for what could be a grueling nine days straight on the water, including three practice days prior to the start of competition. Fortunately, Chatuge Reservoir lies in the mountains of northeast Georgia, so the temperatures are not as unbearable as they are in most parts of the country in July and August.
One variable that has weighed heavily on the minds of the college contenders has simply become known as “the rat.” In the 2013 National Championship fans watched as Auburn University at Montgomery’s Tom Frink and Jacob Nummy heaved a 6-inch chunk of wood known as “the rat” and enticed some of the biggest fish in Chatuge to jump onboard for a ride to the weigh-in. Though the unusual bait was only one punch of a two-part combo that included drop shotting, the big lure stole the show. It piqued enough interest that a mass-produced composite rat — the BBZ-1 Rat — was just released by Spro at the ICAST trade show in July.
Will “the rat” play a role in this year’s National Championship? Nummy believes it might. Nummy qualified to fish the championship through the 2014 Carhartt College B.A.S.S. Wild Card on Pickwick Lake in June. His teammate from AUM this year is Tyler Strock.
“I could see someone throwing a big bait and getting a couple big bites a day,” Nummy said. “After last year, the cat’s out of the bag, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done again. Catching just one of those big-bait fish a day would go a long way.”
The prevailing pattern for this National Championship will be the same as last year’s — cover a lot of water and hit as many brushpiles as possible while keeping an eye out for schooling bass. The surface-feeding fish are hard to catch and impossible to rely on, but they could play a pivotal role if someone is able to run into them a couple of times over the course of the competition.
Though Chatuge is littered with brush, the lake is relatively small and, as occurred in 2013, multiple anglers will find the same brushpiles.
Nummy predicted that daily five-bass limits weighing at least 13 pounds will be required to win.
Takeoff will be held daily at 6:30 a.m. ET from The Ridges Marina in Hiawassee, Ga. Weigh-ins for the championship will be held at Young Harris College and are set to begin at 3 p.m. ET.
ESPNU will present coverage of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship beginning Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. ET, and the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket will air beginning Aug, 17 at 11 a.m. For a complete list of airings, visit www.bassmaster.com/tv-schedule.Â
Fans can follow all the action on Bassmaster.com. Features include live-streaming weigh-ins, real-time leaderboards, on-the-water blogs, photo galleries, BASScam videos and daily results.
Follow the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Facebook at www.facebook.com/collegebass and on Twitter using the hashtag #collegebass.
Local hosts for this event are the City of Hiawassee, Towns County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Towns County Commission and Young Harris College.