ROCK HILL — Anglers from 16 colleges from six Southern states will take to the water of Lake Wylie beginning Thursday in search of the biggest bass.
They are seeking a berth in the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship.
Teams of 22 student anglers are competing in Southern regional which starts Thursday and ends Saturday. The teams qualified for the regional by placing in the top five at the four regular-season qualifying events held by each conference. There are five conferences Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Western holding qualifying championships.
The top five teams from each conference championship advance to the national championship.
College fishing is free to enter and FLW, a fishing show, provides boats and drivers for each competing team. 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.
The teams will use Ebenezer Park at 4490 Boatshore Road to access the lake. The fishing starts at 7:30 a.m. each day. Weigh-ins will be at Newport Walmart, 4875 Old York Road, beginning at 4 p.m. each day.
Anglers are going to have to keep an open mind, said Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., of fishing on Lake Wylie. It's going to be hard to go out there and catch all your fish with one primary bait. They are going to have to be versatile. They might catch one bass using a topwater bait, one on a jig, one on a lay down, one on a shaky head.
They should plan to fish a little bit of everything and expect to do a lot of running and gunning, Thrift said.
Thrift said the recent cooler weather should scatter the fish and he predicted it will take between 2 to 14 pounds a day to win the tournament.
Colleges sending teams are:
• Alabama: Auburn, Auburn-Montgomery, Troy State and the University of Alabama
• Florida: Daytona State College, Indian River State College, Seminole State College, the University of Central Florida,
• Georgia: Georgia Southern
• Mississippi: Mississippi College, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi
• North Carolina: North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Wake Forest University.
• Tennessee: Tennessee Tech
Coverage of the Southeastern Conference Championship will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network when FLW air from 1-2 p.m. Dec. 23.