A team from the University of South Carolina will be among 50 entries in the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship, scheduled for April 16-18 on Lake Murray out of Columbia.
Patrick Walters of Summerville and Gettys Brannon of Columbia will represent the Gamecocks in the three-day tournament to crown college bass fishing’s national champion. The winning team will take home a fully rigged bass boat and earn a spot in the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, the championship of the FLW tour.
Anglers will take off from SCE&G North Recreation Area in Columbia at 7 a.m. Weigh-ins will be held adjacent to Carolina Stadium in Columbia beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday – or immediately after the end of the University of South Carolina’s scheduled baseball game. Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
FLW will also hold a College Fishing Expo from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 16, 4:30 to 7 p.m. on April 17 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 18. The Expo will take place adjacent to the Carolina Stadium. Activities include a sports zone, tailgate games, sponsor giveaways and a Ranger boat simulator.
Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, the pro fisherman who won the 2014 FLW Cup on Lake Murray, fishing conditions should be perfect for the college kids.
“This event will hit the lake right at the heart of the spawn, and bass will be in all stages. We should see spawning, prespawn and postspawn bass all being caught,” he said.
“It’s not hard to catch fish on Murray but the one thing teams are going to have to be careful of is getting sucked into a pattern that is producing fish, but not the right size fish,” Gagliardi said. “It’s hard to move when you’re catching 2-pound fish cast after cast after cast, but those are not the fish that are going to win the tournament. Teams are going to have to move away from those areas to go and find the 4- to 5-pounders that they’ll need to make a difference.
“It’s going to be a fun tournament with a lot of fish caught. Teams are going to be competing for the same water so having multiple productive locations will be the difference between winning and losing.”
Gagliardi believes that teams are going to have to consistently bring in 18- to 20-pound sacks to win.