FLW College Fishing - Southeastern
Southeastern Conference Championship (Sept. 27-29, 2012)
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Autumn is supposed to be a pleasant time when the leaves change, the pesky bugs vanish and the bass fishing gets good again. But at Lake Wylie on the North Carolina-South Carolina border, there are few signs of fall – which means the bite at the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southeast Conference Championship could be tough.
The fall transition starts as cool nights lower the water temperature, which triggers the largemouths to return to the bank to feed before winter. But on Wylie, the daytime air temperatures are still pushing the mid 80s, which mitigates any lasting effect from the cooler evenings. Some quality largemouths are moving up shallow, but they’ve been spotty to say the least.
“You have to cover a lot of water,” said Auburn University’s Matt Lee. “It’s not like you can just sit in an area all day. With the lake being low, the water warms up faster during the day. We’re still seeing temps in the mid to upper 70s. The big ones are starting to move into the backs of creeks to feed, but you’ll just catch one or two. And then the next one you catch is at the mouth of the creek.”
Lake Wylie is the home fishery of FLW Tour regulars Bryan Thrift, Matt Arey, Todd Auten, Chris Baumgardner and Brent Long. If those five anglers have anything in common, it’s that they are all exceptional at throwing topwaters and skipping docks. Not coincidentally, those two patterns are expected to dominate the Southeast Conference Championship.
“I think you’ll see most teams throw topwaters in the morning and then go tap the dock bite with jigs in the afternoons,” said North Carolina State angler Ethan Cox.
“I think you’ll see lots of topwater action and some guys might be cranking shallow,” said Lee’s teammate, Chris Seals. “But buzzbaits and walking baits will play a major role in this tournament.”
Lee and Seals think 11 pounds per day might be enough to win the tournament and 9 pounds a day will make the top-five cutoff.
“I think getting a limit both days is golden,” added Lee. “The 14-inch length limit makes it tough. A couple teams will run across a 3- or 4-pounder, but the big thing is consistency. For us, making that top-five cut is what we’re after. If we can get that, it will be a huge relief. We’re shooting for 10 pounds today, but I think 12 or 13 is really possible.”
Cox and his N.C. State partner Clint Benbow have put in a considerable amount of prepractice. Cox spent 13 days prefishing while Benbow lives on nearby Lake Norman and fishes Wylie frequently.
“We’ve got places where we can get limits and we’ve got places where we can catch big fish,” Cox explained. “We’ve got 90 waypoints loaded in the GPS right now. If everything went right today, we could catch 13 pounds.”
Twenty FLW College Fishing Southeast Conference teams will compete for two days with a top-five cut being made after the day-two weigh-in. The top-five teams, based on total accumulated weight, will advance to Saturday’s finals and the team with the heaviest three-day cumulative weight will be declared champion.
Anglers will take off from Ebenezer Park located at 4490 Boatshore Road in Rock Hill, S.C., at 7:30 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 4875 Old York Road in Rock Hill, S.C., beginning at 4 p.m. each day.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Thursday and Friday from 2–4 p.m. and Saturday from noon–4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors. Fans can also learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Southeastern Conference Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 23 from 1-2 p.m. EST. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
Sunrise: 7:16 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees
Expected high temperature: 86 degrees
Water temperature: 73-77 degrees
Wind: WSW at 6 mph
Humidity: 58 percent
Day’s outlook: Mostly sunny