BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When college football winds down at year’s end, a different sort of competition — one played far from the gridiron — will begin. Teams representing colleges and universities from throughout the country will battle it out on some of the best bass fishing waters in the nation as the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series gets underway in January.
New this year is a conference format, challenging students to battle rival colleges for the biggest tournament bags and bragging rights in five regional tournaments, as well as a shot at entry in the season-ending Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship next summer.
College Series tournament manager Hank Weldon says the new format is a testament to the boom in popularity of college bass fishing.
“During the past few years, we’ve seen the season evolve from one tournament annually to seven tournaments this year,” Weldon said.
“We’re really proud of the fact that College Series tournaments are being held on some of the hottest bass lakes in America,” he added. Five of the six qualifying tournaments will be held on lakes ranked on Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list, and four are in the Top 25.
The season kicks off Jan. 4-5 on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Tavares, Fla., for Southern B.A.S.S. Conference anglers. The Central B.A.S.S. Conference regional tournament will be March 8-9 on Amistad Reservoir at Del Rio, Texas. Colleges farther west will fish Clear Lake in California, site of the Western B.A.S.S. Conference qualifier April 6-7 in Clear Lake, Calif. The Eastern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional will be held April 12-13 on Lake Norman at Charlotte, N.C. And teams in the Midwestern B.A.S.S. Conference will compete May 29-30 on the Mississippi River at Fort Madison, Iowa.
College anglers from anywhere in the United States can participate in the new College Series Wildcard tournament June 14-15 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. See photos of the 2013 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series season.
“The addition of the wildcard is something we’re excited about,” Weldon said. “In the regular season, colleges can only fish within their respective conferences. This tournament, which will take place at prime time for one of the best lakes in the nation, gives the fishing teams one last chance to make it to the championship.”
The College Series Championship, at a site to be announced, is a hotly contested fishing tournament in which schools compete for bragging rights and prizes as well as for a chance to fish a postseason qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic.
The Oklahoma State University team of Zack Birge and Blake Flurry won the Carhartt College Championship title in July 2012, while Matt Lee of Auburn University outlasted the top individual fishermen — including his own brother — to earn a coveted berth in the 2013 Classic on Grand Lake, Okla., Feb. 22-24. Lee will compete against the world’s best bass anglers for fishing fame and the $500,000 first prize.
College anglers interested in participating in the 2013 Carhartt College Series can get more information at Bassmaster.com or by contacting Weldon at 205-313-0957.