(Mar 20, 2016 - SENECA, S.C.)
For the first time in FLW College Fishing history, the National Championship winners from the University of South Carolina faced off Sunday morning in a one-day fish-off on Lake Russell to decide which team member would represent their school at the Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. Chris Blanchette of Irmo, South Carolina, brought four bass to the scale weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces. Teammate Hampton Anderson of Anderson, South Carolina weighed a five-bass limit totaling 10 pounds, 1 ounce, to win the fish-off and earn the entry into the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup.
“This is unbelievable and really hasn’t even sunk in yet,” said Anderson, a senior majoring in Finance. “After we won the championship yesterday it seems like we have been running the entire time. Between interviews, making preparations for the fish-off, waking up early and then fishing all day – I haven’t even had a chance to really think about what just happened. I do know that I’m fishing in the Forrest Wood Cup, though, and that means a whole lot.”
Anderson is guaranteed at least a $10,000 paycheck, as that amount is awarded to the last-place finisher at the Forrest Wood Cup. The angler that wins the Forrest Wood Cup will earn $300,000.
“I don’t even know what $300,000 looks like,” Anderson joked on stage.
Anderson said that he caught his fish Sunday on Lake Russell by fishing a Watermelon Seed-colored weightless worm.
“I was familiar with Russell, but I hadn’t seen the lake in more than five years,” Anderson said. “I used to fish there with my dad when I was young, but I didn’t even remember where we had fished at. I knew that I was going to have to treat it like a practice day and just go fishing.
“This morning I started near the takeoff ramp. I targeted some main-lake points and managed to catch a couple of small spotted bass, but I knew that I wasn’t going to win by staying there. I ran back in a few pockets and caught a nice largemouth on a laydown. Once I caught that fish, I started running more pockets and only targeting the laydowns. I ended up weighing in four largemouth and one spotted bass, but all of them were caught off of the laydowns.
“This championship win was huge for our club,” Anderson went on to say. “After Gettys (Brannon) and Patrick (Walters) won the championship last year our bass team definitely got bigger. I’m sure that our second-straight title will only help our numbers. We’ve got a few good teams already qualified for next year’s championship as well, so the University of South Carolina is definitely becoming one of the top bass clubs in the nation.”
The final standings after the one-day fish-off on Lake Russell were:
1st: University of South Carolina – Hampton Anderson, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 10-1, Entry into Forrest Wood Cup
2nd: University of South Carolina – Chris Blanchette, Irmo, S.C., four bass, 6-6
The FLW College Fishing National Championship, hosted by the Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau, awarded the top team a $30,000 prize package, including a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower outboard engine and one entry into the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup. The Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing, will be held August 4-7 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, and will offer a collegiate angler the opportunity to compete for a top award of $300,000.
College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.