“Go West, young man,” is a quote generally attributed to Horace Greeley nearly two centuries ago. As young people on two-angler teams representing area schools prepare for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Western Regional, they can’t go much farther West than Clear Lake. Destiny and a trip to the Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship await the teams that finish in the Top 10.
Clear Lake has been the site of several historic B.A.S.S. events. In 2000, Byron Velvick set the B.A.S.S. three-day record (five-bass limit) with 83 pounds, 5 ounces. In a 2007 Elite Series event, Steve Kennedy set the four-day catch record (since eclipsed) with 122-14.
Conditions are right for the college anglers to have similar success this week. The bass are in the prespawn phase, so they’ll almost certainly be shallow (where they’re most vulnerable to various angling techniques) and aggressively feeding. Experts anticipate big swimbaits, castable umbrella rigs and drop shotted soft plastic lures will account for the bulk of the catch and likely the winners’ creel as well.
And since each two-angler team will be combining efforts to take the best five bass to the scales each day, catches should be heavy. Several teams are likely to crack the 30-pound mark for five fish. This could be a record-setting college regional tournament.
The Western Regional is one of five regional tournaments through which college teams can qualify for the National Championship. In addition, there is a Wildcard event, June 14-15, on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. The season began in January with the Southern B.A.S.S. Conference Regional won by Bethel University on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes.
The National Championship will be held Aug. 1-3 on Lake Chatuge out of Young Harris, Ga. After the National Championship team is crowned, the two anglers will go head-to-head in the Bassmaster Classic round for a berth in the 2014 Classic on Lake Guntersville, Ala., Feb. 21-23.