LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A record 71 colleges and universities from across the United States will send teams of anglers to compete in the 2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship, July 25-27, in Little Rock. Competition continues July 28-29 as members of the Top 4 teams battle individually for a lone berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
Jerry McKinnis, B.A.S.S. co-owner, said the growth in the Carhartt College championship this year reflects a surge in excitement over this new but rapidly growing sector of bass fishing. B.A.S.S. has supported college programs for more than seven years, providing opportunities for young anglers to hone their skills.
“I think it’s truly important that people in the fishing industry devote a lot of effort toward bringing college students into bass fishing,” McKinnis said. “At a registration meeting for the college series four years ago, I remember meeting a young man, Brandon Card. Now here he is, competing as a rookie in the Elite Series, and for a while this year, he was a contender for Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. That’s a perfect example of how important all of this is to these kids. Even if they don’t want to give professional fishing a try, this competitive college experience is something they’ll have the rest of their lives.”
The championship week kicks off with Sponsor Night on July 23 at the Little Rock headquarters of JM Associates with coaching from Bassmaster Elite Series anglers covering all aspects of tournament fishing, from productive baits to fish-finding strategies.
Among the pros who will speak to the students is Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.
“These college kids bring a high level of competition to the sport,” Browning said. “Not only are they representing themselves, but they are also out there competing for their universities and colleges. They can be as serious as the top professional bass fishermen in the sport. It’s a pleasure talking to them. A handful will want to continue with a professional bass career. I’ll talk to them about what they can expect from the ins and outs of this game. They add a lot of excitement to this sport and help it grow with the new ideas they bring.”
Competition begins with a full field fishing the Arkansas River on July 25, followed by another contest with all of the anglers on July 26 on Lake Maumelle. On July 27, the field will be cut to the Top 5 teams, which will fish a mystery location.
“With the format we have in Little Rock, the college teams will fish a number of different bodies of water,” McKinnis said. “If they keep advancing, they keep going to new waters — new places where they don’t have any history. That makes it tough. It takes a good angler to handle that.”
On July 28-29, the members of the Top 4 teams compete individually in a bracket format on unknown waters as they vie for the one available Bassmaster Classic berth.
“One fortunate person will get to compete in the Bassmaster Classic, and without a doubt, that is the premier event in all of competitive bass fishing,” Browning said. “I hope the person who earns that will enjoy being part of it, because the guys they are competing against are the best in the world. The first thing they need to do is just enjoy the experience and use it to gain momentum for the future. These guys have done a great job getting to the college nationals. Very few people have the opportunity to compete in the Classic, and I really want them to appreciate it.”
“Fishing in the Classic right alongside the big boys will be amazing for one of these college kids,” McKinnis said. “It’s something they just can’t fathom until they have the chance to get on the water with the pros.”
From July 25-27, college teams launch at 6:10 a.m. each morning, and tournament weigh-ins will be held at 3:30 p.m. CST at Little Rock Tractor Supply Co., 10801 Colonel Glenn Rd. The public is invited to attend the free expo, which opens daily at 2:30 p.m. CST. Hamburgers and hotdogs from the University of Arkansas at LIttle Rock’s team will be available for sale at the expo as a Carhartt-sponsored fundraiser for the college.
All Carhartt Bassmaster College Series events will be broadcast on ESPNU.
2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Title Sponsor: Carhartt
2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Supporting Level: Ardent Reels, BOOYAH, Falcon Rods, Luck “E” Strike
2012 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival
For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.