MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The Fairmont State University team of Wil Dieffenbauch of Hundred, W. Va., and Ryan Radcliff of Parkersburg, W.Va., took the lead on day one of the National Guard FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Championship presented by Mercury on Philpott Lake Thursday with a five-bass limit weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces. The team holds a 13-ounce lead over their nearest competitor and defending Northern Conference Champions, Ramapo College. Twenty college teams are participating in this tournament and are competing for a Ranger Z117 bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a berth in the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.
“We caught a lot of fish today,” said Dieffenbauch, a senior in civil engineering. “We caught 10 or 11 keepers and were able to cull four or five times. There is a lot of small fish in the lake but it was tough catching those bigger bass. The fish act a lot differently than the ones we are used to in West Virginia, the largemouth act more like spotted bass and are a little more difficult to figure out.
“I can’t even imagine how many spots we hit today,” Diffenbauch continued. “We did a lot of running and gunning catching fish in all depths with a couple of key baits. We stayed on each spot anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the bite. I have about 25 or 30 spots marked, we didn’t even hit all of the spots today, I was trying to save a few areas for tomorrow so that hopefully we can catch another limit.”
Both anglers from Fairmont State are new to Philpott Lake. Diffenbauch indicated that he came down four or five times for practice about a month or so ago but conditions on the lake have changed and what was working then is not working now. Radcliff was unable to do any pre-practice on the lake and said that yesterday was his first time on Philpott.
Not wanting to reveal too many secrets as to what baits or patterns they were using Diffenbauch said that he believes they are using one or two baits that nobody else is using. They are fishing a pattern and keying in on very specific spots that are all similar in nature.
“It feels good to be in the number one spot,” said Radcliff, a junior majoring in criminal justice. “After having a not so good practice I think we really surprised ourselves with as many fish as we caught today. Going into the day we really thought we were going to have to struggle to catch a limit. The key for us is going to be getting another limit tomorrow, if we can do that I think we have a pretty good shot of winning, but we aren’t getting our hopes up. We know this lake can be pretty tough and I don’t think there will be nearly as many fish caught tomorrow.”
The top 10 teams are:
1st: Fairmont State University – Ryan Radcliff, Parkersburg, W. Va., and Wil Dieffenbauch, Hundred, W. Va., five bass, 9-10
2nd: Ramapo College – Jeffrey Voss, Secaucus, N.J., and Joseph Zapf, Whippany, N.J., five bass, 8-13
3rd: University of New York-Plattsburgh – Chris Benninger, Grand Island, N.Y., and Richard Lee, Port Kent, N.Y., five bass, 8-3
4th: Virginia Tech – Jody White, Shaftsbury, Vt., five bass, 7-10
5th: Virginia Tech – Anderew Jackson, Lebanon, Va., and Patrick Snellings, Fredericksburg, Va., five bass, 7-0
6th: Shippensburg University – Jonathan Miller, Keedysville, Md., four bass, 6-12
7th: Radford University – Ryan McCarthy, Chantilly, Va., and Steven Jarrells, Radford, Va., four bass, 6-9
8th: Michigan State University – Thomas Rumpf Jr., Perrysburg, Ohio, and Luke Baker, Lansing, Mich., five bass, 5-7
9th: Glenville State College – Brandon Abbott, Gandeeville, W. Va., and Nick Lambert, Oceana, W. Va., four bass, 4-6
10th:Radford University – Blaine Chitwood, Wirtz, Va., and Brett Meyn, Mechanicsville, Va., four bass, 3-9
Anglers will take off from Twin Ridge Recreation Area located at State Road 624, Twin Ridge Marina Road in Henry, Va., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 976 Commonwealth Boulevard, in Martinsville, Va., beginning at 4 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Friday from 2-4 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes 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.
Four regular-season qualifying events were held in each conference – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western – the top five teams from each regular-season event qualified for one of five conference championships. The top five teams from each conference championship advance to the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter and FLW provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
Coverage of the Northern Conference Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 16 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.
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