FLW College Fishing - Western
Western Conference Championship (Aug. 30-Sept.. 1, 2012)
OREM, Utah – Utah Lake sits in a valley with granite peaks all around. Today, teams competing in the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Western Conference Championship experienced their share of peaks and valley on this rather stingy lake.
Going into this competition, the general understanding was that the lake's bass would be grouped in isolated areas and dialing in those particular spots would be the key to success. Some figured it out; most did not. The field of 20 produced only two limits, 17 teams had two fish or less and six of them blanked.
Chico State's Anthony Dayton and Nic Carrico lead the event with four fish that weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces, but first let's look at the most dramatic case of peak and valley. Humboldt State University's Derrick Hicks and Jen Edgar placed sixth with 4 pounds, 2 ounces; their total fish count – just one. Jen caught that lone largemouth right off the bat this morning and although the rest of their day became a lesson in frustration, that one chunky fish – the largest of the day – was enough to put them just outside the top-5.
Edgar, a self-proclaimed finesse specialist was flipping a creature bait in reeds with 12-pound – that's right, 12-pound – monofilament when the big fish decided to eat. She said she's much more comfortable with a dropshot, but complementing the reaction bait thrown by her partner Derrick Hicks.
"I was really stoked; it was totally unexpected," Edgar said. "I was flipping in there and I said 'I'm going to give this a try' and it was pretty exciting."
Dayton and Carrico fished the north end of the lake and caught most of their fish by flipping shoreline cover. Diversity, Dayton said, was the essential element of their performance.
"We were flipping a lot of different baits and we actually caught every fish on a different bait," he said. "It was a struggle, changing, switching baits and just trying whatever worked. We knew what other teams were throwing and we decided to just switch it up and find something better.
"We were throwing mostly dark baits so they would show up (in the lake's murky water). We threw baits like Lake Fork Hyper Sticks, but different ways – Texas rigged, wacky rigged, whatever works. We didn't really find much of a pattern besides dark baits."
Carrico said his team avoided the lake's south end because many teams were fishing there. The Chico State anglers moved around quite a bit, but Carrico said they tried to avoid randomness.
"We stuck to our main areas and just cycled through them," he said. "It was just a timing thing for us. We just had to hit it at the right time and know the right technique to use in that situation. In the morning, we threw some reaction baits, while one guy threw soft plastics off the back. We got a few there and the rest of the day, we just bounced around and got lucky a few times."
The leaders did not put in any prefishing time prior to the official practice day, but Dayton said they did their homework: "We got a Utah map and we talked to people on the phone and that helped us out a little bit. When we got on the lake, we saw that you couldn't get within 50 yards of much of the reeds (due to low water level) but we found six spots on the lake and those were the six we had to hit."
CSU-Long Beach takes second
"We were getting fish all day and we lost a couple that we could have culled and that would have helped us today," Gangel said. "After we got our limit and got a couple more, we left it alone and hopefully, we can get five more tomorrow. With five more tomorrow, we'll be in good shape."
Cox said that he and Gangel started on a spot at the lake's north end, but quickly determined that they'd fare better down south. Heading back down the lake, they located an area with cooler water and ended up catching most of their fish in this area.
After a slow start, Cal Poly takes third
The only other team to catch a limit was John Zeolla and Kyle Greenlaw of Cal Poly. Their five fish gave them a third-place weight of 6-4. Greenlaw said their day got off to a disappointing start, but they regrouped and got the job done.
"We came up here and prefished about a week ago and in our original plan, we had a spot that we thought would be hidden," he said. "We went in there this morning and there were nine boats in a line fishing the same spot. On our first time through, we weren't successful. We went to another spot, caught our fish, went back to the (first spot) and caught another fish. So we only had a couple spots where we were catching fish."
Flipping accounted for most of their fish and Zeolla said that after a slow morning, they got bit throughout the day. "It was just getting on the grind and making every cast count; staying focused and making everything work."
Oregon State takes fourth
Oregon State University's Zach McDonald and Ryan Sparks struggled through nearly three hours of fruitless effort this morning before identifying a presentation that delivered two nice keepers for a fourth-place catch of 5-6.
"We were definitely fishing slow today," McDonald said. "It was hard to get bites, period. We caught two undersized (in addition to the keepers). We had five bites all day."
McDonald said he and Sparks focused most of their attention on docks and various marina structure.
Local team Utah Valley U takes fifth
Hometown favorites, Russell Behlings and Aaron Warner of Utah Valley had to adjust their game plan this morning when they arrived at their first spot and found it occupied by another team. Moving and working marinas proved most productive for them and their two bass weighing 4-12 gave them a fifth-place.
"Earlier in the day, we went for reaction strikes, but then we tried to slow it down," Warner said. "A lot of teams are in the harbors but they're going really fast. We don't have a whole lot of areas we can fish in the harbor so we had to make sure we fished the areas that we can really, really well."
Best of the rest
6th: Derrick Hicks and Jen Edgar, of Humboldt State University, 4-2
7th: Keane Velez and Benjamin Robey, of Colorado State University, 3-10
8th: Sam Sayad and Chris Rhoden, of U.C. Santa Cruz, 2-13
9th: Thomas Kanemoto and Robert Matsura, of Sacramento State, 2-11
10th: Nick Barr and Jesse Squires, of Eastern Washington, 2-9
Day two of FLW National Guard College Fishing Series Western Regional action continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7:00 a.m. (Mountain Time) at Utah Lake State Park, located at 4400 West Center Street in Provo, UT.