University of Alabama takes early lead at FLW College Fishing National Championship - Major League Fishing
University of Alabama takes early lead at FLW College Fishing National Championship
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University of Alabama takes early lead at FLW College Fishing National Championship

Image for University of Alabama takes early lead at FLW College Fishing National Championship
University of Alabama teammates Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., (left) and Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala., stormed into the lead at the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship with a day-one total weight of 18 pounds, 8 ounces. Photo by Gary Mortenson.
April 19, 2013 • MLF • Abu Garcia College Fishing

ROGERS, Ark. (April 19, 2013) – Temperatures in Rogers, Ark., plummeted more than 40 degrees in a 24-hour period as college anglers were greeted to a blustery 30-degree morning at takeoff on day one of the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Beaver Lake Friday. The University of Alabama team of Logan Johnson of Jasper, Ala., and Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., were able to overcome the cold and wind to take the early lead with a five-bass limit that weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces. The team holds a 2-pound, 8-ounce lead over their nearest competitor, Auburn University. Twenty-five college teams from across the country are participating in the tournament and competing for a $30,000 prize package which includes a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard engine plus $3,000 and a berth in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup.

“It feels awesome to be in the lead,” said Johnson, a senior in advertising. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do something again tomorrow. I think we’re going to have to catch 12 or 14 pounds to maintain our lead and make the cut.”

According to the Crimson Tide team, they are doing a lot of running and gunning on the lake – not targeting any specific pattern or cover. Although the Alabama rig played a huge role in last week’s FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake, many teams said they tried using the A-rig but changed tactics quickly after having little success with it. The University of Alabama indicated that two of their bass came off the A-rig but the remainder of their sack was caught using Strike King swimbaits.

“On our fifth cast this morning we hooked up on the big one (a 5-pound lunker),” said Connell, a recent graduate in marketing. “One hour later we had pretty much what we caught. I was pretty surprised that after the pros went through there last week that there were still fish left in the area.

“About 10 o’clock we left to look for new water,” continued Connell. “We hope the area will replenish tomorrow. It was a fun day of fishing. We caught several limits and hope that we can do it again tomorrow.”

The top 10 teams are:

1st: University Of Alabama – Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., and Logan Johnson, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 18-8

2nd: Auburn University – Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., and Shane Powell, Dothan, Ala., five bass, 16-0

3rd: University of North Carolina-Charlotte – Shane Lehew, Charlotte, N.C., and Adam Waters, Denver, N.C., five bass, 15-10

4th: Indian River State College – Kyle Monti and Mike Cornell, both of Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 14-4

5th: California State University-Long Beach – Justin Gangel, Valley Center, Calif., and Alex Cox, Long Beach, Calif., five bass, 13-6

6th: Georgetown College – Mike Huff and Nick Huff, both of Corbin, Ky., five bass, 13-2

7th: Indiana University – Dustin Vaal, Saint Meinrad, Ind., and Steven Bressler, Fremont, Ind., five bass, 13-0

8th: Purdue University – Nicholas Schuetz, Loogootee, Ind., and Elliott Myers, Anderson, Ind., five bass, 12-14

9th: University of Central Florida – Miles Burghoff, Orlando, Fla., and Casey O’Donnell, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 12-13

10th: Winona State University – Cade Laufenberg, La Crosse, Wis., and Sam Schollmeier, Rochester, Minn., five bass, 12-5

Daily takeoffs for the national championship will be from Prairie Creek Park located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers at 7 a.m. Weigh-ins will be at 4 p.m. at the Walmart located at 2110 W. Walnut St. in Rogers.

FLW is hosting the College Fishing Expo at Walmart, which continues Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. Activities include a sports zone, tailgate games, sponsor giveaways and a Ranger boat simulator.

The national championship awards the top team a $30,000 prize package and an entry into the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The team member fishing as a pro in the Forrest Wood Cup also receives the use of a wrapped Ranger Boat and Chevy tow vehicle. All prize money earned in the Forrest Wood Cup goes directly to the individual who earns it. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held Aug. 15-18 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., and will offer the collegiate anglers the opportunity to compete for a top award of $500,000.

Coverage of the FLW College Fishing National Championship, hosted by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs June 9 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. The Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

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.

For more information about the FLW College Fishing National Championship, visit CollegeFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow College Fishing on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.