Entry Earned for 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship!

I am not necessarily a Groundhog fan but Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring and a delegate of Bethel Bass Team members are headed South. Our first tournament with FLW is a one day on Lake Seminole out of Brainbridge, Ga……so I guess Punxsutawney was right, it’s an early spring for us WildCats.

I’m starting 2019 with a new fishing partner, Kyle Palmer (2017 Bassmaster High School All-American), although we did fish together in November in the 2018 Murray State Fall Invitational out of Paris Landing State Park in Buchannan, Tn. The weather conditions challenged everyone, high winds and a few whitecaps. Overall, despite the tough conditions, Kyle and I were able to grind out a limit of five bass limit weighing in just over 18 ½ pounds to take first place at the Murray State Fall Invitational.

We both have high expatiations for the 2019 tournament season. Our first tournament is a one day event with very little water time making it extremely pressure packed. Preparation is a key factor in getting ready for any tournament.

It’s a lot like Christmas, finally I get to breakout my new Mark Davis Rods by Lews, new reels and a dozen or so new Strike King lures. My reels are spooled with Seaguar monofilament clear 15 pound line and my lures sport new Owner Hooks treble hooks making sure when a lurker strikes, he’ll find his want into the box.

This will be Kyle’s and my inaugural outing in my Skeeter FX21 with a Yamaha SHO 250 powerhouse and official for points chase and qualifying for the year end championships. We’ll make the trip in my slightly used 2013 F150 with engine tuning by Hypertech’s Max Energy programmer. My main goal in selecting a programmer, I wanted towing power and better fuel mileage, Hypertech didn’t disappoints. A.R.E. Accessories hooked me up with a superfine topper and completed deal, sending me to Cars & Trucks ETC in Memphis, Tn. for the install. Barbara Cole made arrangements for me to come to Memphis for the installation. The Topper paint was flawless and the Oxford white match perfectly with my truck. The installers at Cars & Truck make an easy task of the installation, right down to the remote locking and keyless entry feature. I love that feature, it comes in handy when you are loading and unloading, walk away and can’t remember if everything is lock up…just hit the remote and it’s done. The driver and passenger side were vented and sported screens to keep pest out but fresh air in. The inside is well lit with added LED Dome light, Prop Switch and dual rope lights. Up top sports Yakima skyline towers to support my home-made dual rod pods.

Arriving on site, registering and getting settled in when smoothly, everyone at FLW were right on top of things as well as everyone associated with Bainbridge Convention and Visitor Bureau. I believe 173 teams registered for the Southeastern Conference. Kyle and I had about a day and half to try to put a pattern together, practice actually didn’t go as planned. Thank goodness everyday is a new day, drawing an early pill we were out in the early morning dawn, that was the first time I’ve ever been number one out, you don’t have much time to get nervous so that’s a plus. We went to a site where we had caught one during practice and on our first pass we landed 15, culling early takes some pressure off, knowing we have the limit but we just couldn’t he the big ones to bite. What Kyle and I were serving up wasn’t appealing enough for the big bass. What I finally used was an oldie but goodie top water bait call a Devil’s Horse it has great action, easy to cast and has some adjustment on how much water you want the bait to throw, you can work it slow or you can use a fast pace for a quicker retrieve.

The weigh-in time came way too soon, being first at weigh-in is unsettling to say the least, you don’t know what’s in the tank behind you, so Kyle and I had to sweat it out. I was extremely pleased with fuel mileage from my 250 SHO Yamaha, we fished tournament day and the day and half practice using less than one tank of fuel. (3) Guys, that’s a winner, during three day tournaments in the past sometimes I would get a little concerned making wide open long runs out and back. For the most part, the sweet spot was about 3,000 RPMs but when I went Wide Open Throttle the response RPM quickly hit 6,000 and we were clocking around 75 MPH.

We had a 5 bass limit, no big bass but legal length, all alive and we weighed in 16 pounds – 14 ounce to come in 12th overall. Bethel had a good showing, we had three teams in the top twenty place Bethel University in second place for School of the Year with 585 points just being the winning team of University of Montevallo with 594 points. Congratulations to everyone and again, thanks to FLW and Bainbridge for hosting a great tournament.