Sixty of the nation's top collegiate fisherman will use Lake Du Bay as their playground for the Carhartt College Series National Championship. But, long before teams can reel in a trophy, they have to test the waters.
“These practice days are super important for us,” Grant Ehlenfeldt, an angler from UW-Plattville said. “All these lake maps and all of these contours that we look at and all of the depths...the bottom hardness. We looked at that and kind of find the features that hold fish.”
Hank Weldon, Director of the College Bassmaster program said that adaptability is the most useful tool in learning and fishing the lake.
“They have a very limited practice,” Weldon said. “The key you are going to see is their versatility, how they can adapt to this water.”
Anglers will likely have to adapt to changes in wind and rain this weekend, but obstacles that lurk below the surface could be the toughest adjustment.
“This is probably the most challenging body of water that I have ever fished,” Ehdenfeldt said. “There is stump fields and there is rock piles everywhere.”
“If you get off track, you're going to blow off your lower unit and your motor and you know, break down and be done for the rest of the tournament.”
His teammate, Brett Stanick noted that lack of greenery below the water leads to fish to group in other places.
“There is not a lot of vegetation here,” Stanick said. “(there is) a lot of rock and wood. It seems like the fish kind of hang around the rocks and the timber a lot.”
As the defending champs from Charlotte adjust to new territory, they also have to transition from catching a handful of fish to relying on a smaller haul.
“If you can get three of the right bites a day, that's all you're looking for,” Jake Whitaker from UNC-Charlotte said. “You don't have to catch five here. Throw in some bigger baits, bigger stuff to try and get those three bigger-sized fish to separate our self from the competition.”
The tournament begins Thursday morning with the championship round on Saturday.
WXOW's Nick Tabbert talks to two of the competitors, Winona State's Cade Laufenberg and Wyatt Stout, Wednesday on the 10pm Report.