College Bass: Give me a ditch

College anglers find practice tough on Lake Maumelle

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lake Maumelle is beautiful to look at, but difficult to fish.

 Competitors in this week's Under Armour College Bass National Championship, the nation's most prestigious collegiate bass fishing tournament, found that out as they practiced for the tournament, which runs Wednesday through Friday.

 "It looks good," Eastern Kentucky's Richard Cobb V said of the scenic qualities of the rising, wooded hills surrounding the 8,900-acre lake. "I can stop at a mudhole in a ditch and probably catch 30 times more than I did here."

 During Monday's Anglers of Tomorrow presented by Costa Del Mar, which allowed local youth to learn from the country's top young anglers at a free fishing and conservation clinic, Cobb said he and many of the other 56 teams representing colleges and universities across the U.S. report that it's a tough bite on Lake Maumelle.

 A local fishing Web site says the lake has been called "the Dead Sea" by many frustrated bass anglers.

 "Eight pounds, you will be leading the tournament," Cobb said. "Ten pounds might win it. I have been catching some monster bluegill dropshotting."

 Lake Maumelle is the public water supply reservoir that serves a population of 389,000 in the Little Rock-North Little Rock metropolitan area. Among its list of 40 prohibited activities is:

• The introduction of materials for fish habitat enhancement in the lake and the presence of brush-cutting devices in a boat in the Lake Area or on the lake... 

The site goes on to say that largemouth can be caught, but anglers need to do their homework to locate their deep summer haunts as most cover was removed for better water quality.

Cobb is a veteran of the College Bass wars, and he is confident he and teammate Tyler Moberly can make some waves.

"Eastern has one of the best fishing teams on the water," said Cobb, in his third College Bass championship.

 Moberly and Cobb finished seventh last year on the Arkansas River out of Little Rock, where this year's event was moved from due to dangerous water levels. The field will be cut to five teams for Friday's finals, which will be held on a mystery lake.

 "I've been reassured that Day 3 will be phenomenal," said Cobb, who uses the same adjective to describe his College Bass experiences. "It's phenomenal as far as the sponsors getting into it and the word getting out."

 Cobb said he was at a junior event and was amazed that many young teens were considering colleges based on their bass fishing teams.

 "They're already looking at college to see which teams are good at bass fishing, and I thought that was crazy," he said. "These kids found out about College Bass and they want to giddy-up and go."

 The 2008 Under Armour College Bass National Championship got into giddy-up mode Monday with the Anglers of Tomorrow presented by Costa Del Mar. The collegiate anglers were joined by Costa Del Mar Elite Series Pros Jason Quinn, Kevin Short and Todd Faircloth, who signed autographs and gave away a free pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses.

 The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Mobile Aquarium was a draw for young and old as it sat in front of the Academy Sports + Outdoors in west Little Rock. The 1,000-gallon tank showcased black bass and other Arkansas freshwater species.

 Tuesday night, the college teams will be introduced via live streaming video beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

 CollegeBass.com will stream daily weigh-ins live at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, and complete tournament coverage will air on ESPNU later this summer.

 Visit CollegeBass.com for full event coverage, including streaming daily weigh-in video of the approximate 112 collegiate bass anglers competing in the 2008 Under Armour College Bass National Championship, July 9-11, in Little Rock, Ark. Tournament coverage will air on ESPNU later this summer. "Hooked Up" airs Tuesday night, July 8, 2008, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET. Live weigh-ins are at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday.

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