The 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship is expected to break its high attendance record when it returns to Young Harris College and Chatuge Reservoir in northeast Georgia July 31-Aug. 2.
“We had the largest fan attendance in the history of college fishing last year at Young Harris,” said Hank Weldon, College Series tournament manager. “We are really excited to be going back for the second year in a row.”
For the second time in the tournament’s history, anglers will embark on the 7,050-acre reservoir in hopes of bringing a national championship title to their campus.
“We are thrilled that Young Harris College will again have the opportunity to host this national championship,” said Young Harris College President Cathy Cox. “Our campus community, and truly the entire regional community, really enjoy welcoming the anglers from colleges and universities across the country to our beautiful campus and surrounding area. YHC’s bass fishing program is a huge asset to us, and I am so proud of our team that continues to grow and thrive.”
Teams are qualifying for the championship through a series of conference regional tournaments that began in January as well as through the annual Wild Card tournament on Pickwick Lake, June 27-28. The Wild Card is the last chance for anglers to score a spot in the national championship.
“We have 43 teams that have currently qualified, and we still have two regionals and the Wild Card left in our regular season,” Weldon said. “Right now, we’re looking at adding a minimum of 30 more teams.”
At the national championship, the entire field will compete on the first two days. On the third day, the field will be trimmed to the Top 5 teams that weigh in the heaviest cumulative five-bass daily limits.
“Going into the final day last year, every one of the Top 5 teams had a legitimate shot at taking home the trophy,” Weldon said. “The winning team averaged 14 pounds of bass a day to beat the competition. Any fishery that produces that size bass in the summertime is strong.”
After the championship round, members of the Top 4 teams will compete individually in the Carhartt College Series Classic Bracket for three more days. The top college angler in the Classic bracket competition will earn an invitation to compete with the world’s top professional bass anglers in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic to held in Greenville, S.C.
Weldon expects the 2014 championship to be the biggest and best-attended ever, thanks in part to a Bassmaster Elite Series-style fishing expo at Young Harris College. “We’re bringing in the Elite Series stage as seen on The Bassmasters TV show on ESPN2, and there will be numerous vendors and sponsors onsite, and the local community is bringing in exhibitors as well.”
“Having the national championship at Young Harris was wonderful for the entire community last year,” said Candace Lee, president of the Towns County Chamber of Commerce. “We can’t compare the exposure it brought to our area. The community was behind our team, and our team was behind the tournament. This year we’re expecting an even bigger and better turnout.”
Takeoffs will be held from the Ridges Resort and Marina (3499 U.S. 76, Hiawassee, Ga.) at 6:30 a.m. ET and weigh-ins will begin at 3 p.m. on the Young Harris College campus (1 College Street, Young Harris, Ga.)
The championship, like all Carhartt Bassmaster College Series events, will be aired on the ESPNU network.
Local hosts include Young Harris College, the city of Hiawassee and the Towns County Commissioner.