By Pete Robbins
If the 2013 Boat US Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship merely matched the enthusiasm and success of the 2012 event, it would still be the greatest collegiate bass fishing event around. On the other hand, every indication is that this month’s event will exceed last year’s huge success, and that’s cause for celebration.
From May 20 to 24, the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) will welcome nearly two hundred teams, hailing from 26 states and Canada, and representing over 100 colleges, to battle it out on Pickwick Lake for 2013 bragging rights. They’ll come from the north, south, east and west, from big institutions and from small ones, but no matter who comes out on top this event will likely be a slugfest. Pickwick is the hottest lake in the southeast right now, consistently pushing out double-digit bass and limits that easily exceed 20 pounds.
While the tournament will be the centerpiece of the week’s events, the competition alone is just the tip of the iceberg.
All of the participating students will be treated like kings – and queens, since there are more than a few female competitors – from the time they arrive in Florence, Alabama for the festivities. In fact, the largesse will begin before they even leave campus. It’s a no-entry fee event, with lots of sponsor goodies, and even a hundred dollar travel stipend. On top of that, there’s over $120,000 in combined prizes available in the form of cash, services and merchandise.
The actual competition days won’t begin until Thursday May 23rd, but once these young men and women arrive they’ll be treated as if they’d qualified for any other prestigious fishing championship. Tuesday the 21st will be Yamaha Angler Appreciation Night at McFarland Park. Students will be treated to dinner, mingle with Yamaha pros including Ish Monroe and Takahiro Omori, and have time to take Ranger/Yamaha demo rides and get help from the respective service crews. Berkley Pro Mike Iaconelli will also make a special guest appearance to visit with the students, courtesy of ACA partner Pure Fishing.
On Wednesday, registration will begin with a sponsor reception hosted by more than 20 very involved corporate entities and sponsors of the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series. Dinner will be provided by ACA. Several other national touring pros, including Clark Wendlandt, Jeff Kriet, and others, will be on hand to share in the banquet festivities and offer advice and encouragement to the anglers.
On the two competition days, the anglers will be provided with breakfast and lunch, courtesy of the ACA and their sponsors. At the end of the day on Thursday there will be a cookout donated by Costa Del Mar. Friday’s dinner will come from the ACA. If anyone goes hungry next week, they have no excuse.
Even if you can’t come to Florence yourself, there’s an opportunity for unparalleled virtual participation, because in addition to setting records for overall participation and the depth and diversity of the field, this tournament will have a media presence unlike any other college fishing event to date. It will include a “From the Water Blog,” powered by Dodge Ram, which will start to transmit on Monday and reach a fevered pitch on the competition days. Daily photo galleries from the cameras of professional photographers will be posted on Facebook and the ACA website. Weigh-ins will be streamed live and details can be found on CollegiateBassChampionship.com
“With photos, regular updates from the water, and a live weigh-in, we’re getting the fans as close to Florence, Alabama as we possibly can,” said Tournament Director Wade Middleton.
But that’s not all – the tournament coverage will be too comprehensive to confine it to a single television show, so CarecoTV will divide it into three 30 minute episodes. Each of which will be broadcast nationally on multiple networks as part of the ACA’s superior television coverage of collegiate angling.
Even if your college years are far in the rearview mirror, the multiple means of following this event in real time and afterward will allow you to say that you saw tomorrow’s fishing stars before they hit it big. Don’t miss your opportunity to witness history in the making.