Lake Pickwick will play host to the inaugural Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card June 14-15. This event provides anglers, who have fished a regional but failed to qualify, with one last shot at a berth into the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship.
The entire field will compete both days with the top 10 finishers after two days advancing to the National Championship, which will be held on Lake Chatuge in northeast Georgia August 1-3. This top 10 qualification is based on a field of 50 boats. With each additional 10 boats, one qualifying spot opens up. Thus a 60-boat field will advance 11 teams, 70 boats advance 12 and so on.
With an expected field of 75 to 100 boats from across the country, one of the coveted 10 to 15 qualifying spots won’t be easy to come by. To add a level of difficulty, some of the biggest names in College Bass are still vying for their spot.
Jordan Lee is one such angler. Most remember Auburn’s Lee from last year’s emotional College Classic Bracket that inevitably pitted Jordan against his older brother Matt Lee in a battle for the lone Bassmaster Classic berth that is awarded to one College Bass angler. In an event that would prove bittersweet no matter the outcome, Matt reigned victorious. Prior to this, Matt and Jordan finished 2nd as a team in the 2012 National Championship.
This year however, Jordan is back in the boat with his 2010 and 2011 partner, Shane Powell. This dynamic duo also finished 2nd in the 2011 National Championship to Stephen F Austin’s Andrew Upshaw and Ryan Watkins not to mention their 7th place finish (and worst to date) in the 2010 College Bass National Championship.
Now Lee and Powell have one last shot to make one last National Championship, as graduation will prevent the two from fishing together again. Despite the pressure, Lee feels confident in their chances this week.
“It’s going to take some weight this week to qualify,” said Lee. “It’s a little worse than it was a couple weeks ago. Then you could catch them every cast. A lot of the places out deep are obvious and have been getting beat up on pretty bad the last couple weeks.”
“Out deep” is where the tournament will likely be won. As the water starts to warm and the spawn dies down, a large portion of the bass population moves out to the main river channel. Pickwick in June is primarily a ledge fishing deal where electronics, current and contour all play key roles in finding the right summertime haunts for giant Tennessee River bass.
“I’m pretty sure that everybody who qualifies will catch them out deep,” said Lee. “Forty pounds for two days should win. I think 16 a day should qualify.”
Current could change that prediction according to Lee, but with little to none in the forecast it’s not likely to be a huge help. Current is typically a ledge fisherman’s best friend since it positions the baitfish and the bass in key spots that are much easier to target. Without current, fish are forced to chase bait around causing anglers to have to do the same thing. This becomes much more time consuming.
Teams will launch at McFarland Park daily at 6:15 AM CT, with weigh-ins also at McFarland Park starting at 2:30 PM CT. Daily coverage of this week’s event will feature a live video stream from the weigh-in, photo galleries, BASSCam videos, the Bass Blog and stories on bassmaster.com. For more information concerning the event, please click here.