Knights seize Southern title

Kyle Oliver and Hunter McKamey of the University of Central Florida brought 20-13 to the scales on Day Two to win the Carhartt College Series Southern Regional on Lake Okeechobee with a two-day total of 39-12.

This week, while most people across the country were enduring at or below freezing temperatures, 130 college teams set their sights on sunny south Florida for a week of fun in the sun. The sun that they’ve all heard so much about didn’t really show itself that much this week.

While air temps in the 40’s would be welcomed by most across the country, they were an unwelcomed nuisance to the anglers who had enjoyed sunny skies and 80-degree temps in practice. As the weather lined up to deliver a nasty cold front the night before the tournament began, there was a collective holding of breath amongst the anglers.

A nasty Day One including 25 MPH winds restricted half the field from even reaching their more productive spots but the Day One conditions actually helped eventual winners Kyle Oliver and Hunter McKamey of the University of Central Florida.

Fishing a vast pad field with Zoom Speed Worms and Gambler Burner worms UCF was able to catch fish that were moving in to spawn and fish that were being pulled out of the spawning areas by the cold front.

“The weather benefited us more than anybody else,” said Hunter McKamey. “We saw that everybody was flipping in our area in practice and we tried flipping but didn’t catch much.”

After a lack of bites flipping during practice, the UCF Knights opted for moving baits. After catching a 2-pounder and 3-pounder in the area reeling worms they decided to leave the area until Day One of the tournament.

“The spot we were fishing had pre-spawn fish coming in and the cold weather made the fish that were in the reeds come out,” said Kyle Oliver. “So all those fish merged in our spot. We probably caught 30 fish Saturday and 40 fish Friday.”

Jake Gipson and Charlie Hurst of the University of Alabama brought in the biggest bag of the event on Day Two to take home Bass Pro/ Nitro Big Bag honors with a bag totaling 24-15. Their bag moved them to second overall and was anchored by an 8-7 big fish which tied fellow Alabama anglers John B Davis and Payton McGinnis who brought their big fish in on Day One. The two Okeechobee giants share the Carhartt Big Bass honors for the week.

Kyle Smith and Shelby Concon of the University of Florida finished third with 35-15.

The top 18 teams qualify for the 2014 Carhartt College Series National Championship, which will be held later this summer.