BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — College angler Matt Lee of Auburn University is learning just how life-changing it is to win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Championship Classic berth, a feat he accomplished this summer in a grueling five-day tournament. While he readies to compete against 53 of the world’s best anglers at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, other college students can register to battle it out in the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series.
Registration for all college tournaments opens today on Bassmaster.com, and the field of teams is expected to increase significantly, reflecting a growing interest in college tournament fishing, predicted Hank Weldon, College B.A.S.S. manager. With the circuit’s new regional format, participating teams will match up with rival colleges in their areas to earn wins on the regional level.
The first Carhartt Bassmaster College Series event is scheduled for Jan. 4-5 on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida with a registration deadline of Dec. 21.
“Last March at Lake Guntersville, we had the largest number of entries for a college event with more than 100 boats,” Weldon said. “We expect most of our tournaments in 2013 to meet or exceed the number of entries we saw at Guntersville last year. We have great fisheries for our events this year, and they each take place at the premier time for those premier areas.”
Weldon said the college two-day weight record of 48 pounds, 11 ounces for a five-fish limit was set on Guntersville last year.
“I think we’re going to smash that record this year with the number of anglers we’ll have participating,” Weldon said. “We’re really going to see a boost in participation, because these young competitors will want to fish those venues at the peak times on our college schedule.”
After the season’s launch with the Southern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional in early January in Tavares, Fla., the competition moves to the Lone Star State. The Central B.A.S.S. Conference Regional is planned for March 8-9 on Amistad Reservoir in Del Rio, Texas. Registration ends Feb. 22.
Next, West Coast anglers will vie for victory in the Western B.A.S.S. Conference Regional as anglers compete on Clear Lake in Clear Lake, Calif., April 6-7. Registration ends on March 22. The California competition will be the farthest west the college series has held a tournament to date, said Weldon.
The Eastern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional will be held April 12-13 on Santee Cooper in Manning, S.C., with registration ending March 29. The regular season ends with the May 29-30 Midwestern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional on the Mississippi River in Madison, Iowa, with a registration deadline of May 15.
College anglers who fail to qualify for the championship during regional competition can compete in the new Wildcard tournament planned for June 14-15 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. Registration ends May 31 and gives anglers one more opportunity to make it to the July Championship.
“The championship has been held in Little Rock since the inception of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series,” said Weldon. “We’re considering several new venues that would be convenient for college anglers to travel to and should offer excellent fishing in late July.
“We’re seeing significant growth in college competition as we continue to send one college angler to compete in the Bassmaster Classic. Students are seeing our sponsors step up to offer great prizes, and it just makes them want to fish with us all the more. The Classic berth is the cherry on top.”
Tournament Dates And Locations:
Jan. 4-5 - Southern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional - Harris Chain of Lakes, Tavares, Fla. - Registration deadline, Dec. 21
March 8-9 - Central B.A.S.S. Regional Conference - Amistad Reservoir, Del Rio, Texas - Registration deadline, Feb. 22
April 6-7 - Western B.A.S.S. Conference Regional - Clear Lake, Clear Lake, Calif. - Registration deadline, March 22
April 12-13 - Eastern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional - Santee Cooper, Manning, S.C. - Registration deadline, March 29.
May 29-30 - Midwestern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional - Mississippi River, Madison, Iowa - Registration deadline, May 15.
June 14-15 – Wild Card - Pickwick Lake, Florence, Ala. – Registration deadline, May 31