Mississippi River to test College anglers

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Final exams are over for the year, and now the skills of college anglers will be tested on the upper Mississippi River. That test is this week at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Midwest Super Regional set for May 18-19.

Competing are two-angler teams representing colleges and universities from throughout the Midwest. Participating schools include the University of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, St. Cloud State University, St. Ambrose University, the University of Iowa, the University of Nebraska, the University of St. Thomas and Winona State University.

From elsewhere, schools are sending teams from West Virginia University, Western Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the University of Illinois.

The tournament area covers Mississippi River Pools 7 and 8, and the entire area encompasses the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. That’s a plus for bass fishing according to collegiate angler Mike Gotham.

“There’s a lot of backwater areas in the refuge, and all that protected habitat is good for the bass fishing,” said Gotham, a soil and land management major at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.

Gotham, who will team up with Bobby Anspach, predicts the tournament will be won by making necessary adjustments based on the river’s fluctuating water level.

“The river level changes some every day,” he continued. “That makes the fish move with the water, so you’ve got to make your pattern work around the fluctuating level.”

Gotham added that on the water level scale, higher is better. “That puts the fish more in the backwater areas, and they are easier to pattern there,” he added.

The top one-half of the teams advance to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship set for July 25-27. Top qualifiers from three previous regional events held throughout the nation will join teams advancing from the Midwest Super Regional. A championship bracket competition sends the top college angler to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic in February on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees.

Coverage of the event will be televised later this year on ESPNU. Daily coverage this week features a live video stream from the weigh-in, photo galleries, BASSCam videos and stories on bassmaster.com.

The Best Western Plus Riverfront is the site for the daily launch and weigh-in. Boats take off at sunrise and begin returning for the weigh-in at 2 p.m. All events are free to the public.