TAVARES, Fla.-- With rod guides freezing up around the country, college anglers welcome the chance to head south to Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes to try their hand at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional set for January 4-5.
Teams from throughout the southeast have made their way to the Harris Chain with one common goal, winning the Carhartt College Series opener and moving one step closer to a coveted Bassmaster Classic berth.
Two-angler teams representing their respective universities will compete for two days on lakes Griffin, Eustis, Harris, Little Harris, Denham, Dora, Beauclaire, Carlton, Trout, and Horseshoe.
The universities represented include the University of Florida, Florida State, the University of Georgia, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Jacksonville State, Troy University, the University of Tennessee and more than 20 other schools from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi.
Expecting an 80-boat field, anglers like University of Alabama law student and Florida native Jake Gipson, are preparing accordingly.
“As for which lakes to fish, it will be an interesting decision for the teams to make,” said Gipson. “Teams that stay in Dora will get a substantial amount of extra fishing time but with a field this big, finding some water to yourself will be really helpful.”
“Harris and Griffin are both good options but with idle zones and locking it will take 45 minutes to an hour to get to them,” Gipson continued.
Anglers could burn as much as 4 hours running, locking and idling to and from the boundaries of this week’s tournament waters. With a cold front rolling through a few days prior to competition and water temps dropping from the 60’s to mid 50’s, curveballs have already been flung at the contenders.
“Fishing was pretty tough during practice but it should improve the rest of the week based on the weather forecast,” said Gipson. “In fact, some fish will probably be moving up onto beds by the end of the week.”
Florida bass can be especially finicky in changing weather. Though bass may be busting topwater baits one day, with as little as a 5-degree water temp drop anglers may have to switch to soft plastics or punching thick mats for a handful of bites.
That being said, a warming trend could have bass moving up and onto their beds. An area with only small male bass could be loaded with big females in a matter of hours.
“Overall, the lakes have similar vegetation but there is some variation in the types of canals and spawning areas as well as water color,” said Gipson.
The trick this week will be choosing the right lake and staying in stride with the migration of the bigger bass – neither one step ahead, fishing the spawning flats too early, nor one step behind, fishing deeper water where fish are no longer staging.
With ever-changing conditions and fish in the spawning mood, anglers will have to adapt and adapt quickly on the Harris Chain this week in order to take home the coveted title.
The entire field will compete both days with the top 10 finishers after two days advancing to the Carhartt College Bassmaster National Championship. This 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.
The National Championship will be held during the summer of 2013 on a fishery that has not yet been revealed.
Daily coverage of this week’s event will feature a live video stream from the weigh-in, photo galleries, BASSCam videos and stories on bassmaster.com.
Teams will launch at Wooton Park daily at 7:20 AM EST, with weigh-ins also at Wooton Park starting at 3:20 PM EST. For more information concerning the event, please click here.