College: Full field, full pool

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James Overstreet
Smith Lake

CULLMAN, Ala. – A full field of 250 boats is entered in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Smith Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops. And Smith Lake itself is at full pool, too.

The water level on this 21,000-acre reservoir in north-central Alabama has been well above pool for several weeks now, but Alabama Power is draining the lake to the tune of about 6 inches per day, said tournament director Hank Weldon on Thursday morning. That could mean the Day 1 leaders of this three-day tournament will be those who adapt best to moving water.

“I suspect we’ll see some fish caught in shallow water,” Weldon said. “But guys are going to catch them deep, too. It should be an interesting day as the teams figure out that falling water and what to do with it.”

There is another factor to consider – the Super Moon that shined like a giant electric light in the sky Wednesday evening. A super moon is a natural phenomenon when a full moon occurs during the moon’s closest swing near Earth. Because lunar forces have a significant effect on wildlife, including bass, Weldon said anglers could be busy on Thursday.

Smith is known for its spotted bass bite, but a considerable largemouth population swims in the fishery, as well. Bass are believed to be in prespawn still, though there is a noticeable trend that they are beginning to move toward spawning stage.

The 500 college anglers in the field were greeted by cool (albeit muggy), air this morning, with temperatures hovering in the mid-40s at 7 a.m. for the takeoff at Smith Lake Park. Skies are supposed to remain partly cloudy all day with temperatures topping out at about 60 degrees midday. Winds are out of the north, northwest anywhere from 8 to 13 mph during most of competition time, which could make conditions a bit bumpy on Smith Lake. Meteorologists are not predicting precipitation on Thursday.

This is the second of four regular-season Bassmaster College Series events on the 2019 schedule. The first tournament was held on Lake Norman in North Carolina exactly one month ago. William Nichols and Jamon Phillips of Jacksonville State (Ala.) University won the event with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 37 pounds, 15 ounces.

Upcoming Bassmaster College Series tournaments will be held on Arkansas’ Bull Shoals Lake on April 25-27 and the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York on June 19-21.

A national championship tournament will be held later this year on an as of yet undisclosed fishery.

Thursday’s weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. at Smith Lake Park in Cullman. Stay tuned to Bassmaster.com for live coverage of the weigh-in, photos, stories detailing the day’s action and more!