BEMIDJI, Minn. — Ninety of the best collegiate student/angler teams representing 59 of the nation’s universities will meet for the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, August 10-12 on Minnesota’s Lake Bemidji.
College anglers can compete in one of five regionals and in a wild card qualifier for the opportunity to advance to the national championship.
After three days of championship competition, the best team will be crowned national champions.
Bemidji State University and Visit Bemidji will join with B.A.S.S. as the host of this prestigious competition.
“Both here at Bemidji State and across the community, people are truly proud and excited to welcome these collegiate anglers,” said Scott Faust, director of communications and marketing for BSU. “It’s an honor to share the quality of our fishing and the beauty of northern Minnesota.”
From there, the Top 4 teams will advance to the College Bracket to be held at an undisclosed location, Aug. 14-16. At that point, team members will fish solo and be pitted against one another in a bracket-style, win-and-advance competition.
The eight anglers will vie for a berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, scheduled for South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, March 16-18.
“Visit Bemidji is excited to partner with B.A.S.S. and Bemidji State University for the 2017 Bassmaster College Series National Championship,” said Susan Goudge, executive director for Visit Bemidji. “The event will be second to none with our university campus being located on the shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji.”
Goudge said the scenic lakes and local amenities provide an ideal venue for the nation’s top college anglers.
“Lake Bemidji and area lakes are naturally connected to multiple waterways that include the Mississippi River,” she said. “Bemidji, First City on the Mississippi, looks forward to welcoming the fishing teams, families and B.A.S.S. staff to our beautiful community. And, we’d like to wish the best of luck to all the young anglers.”
Following the tournament briefing Tuesday night, Yamaha Pro Night will take place when several of the stars on the Bassmaster Elite Series will offer seminars. Pros will include Minnesota native Seth Feider, Dustin Connell, Josh Bertrand, Justin Lucas and 2017 Classic champion and former college champion Jordan Lee.
Lee will also be the keynote speaker during Sponsor Night, which is set to take place Wednesday evening before official competition kicks off Thursday morning.
The 2012 Bassmaster college champion Matt Lee, the older brother of Jordan Lee, said fishing at the college level and winning the national championship helped mold and prepare him for a career as pro angler on the Elite Series.
“I sat there in the briefing before the 2012 college championship began, and I was thinking about how difficult it would be to win that tournament,” Matt said. “But I was ready for it, and it was a dream come true to actually win it. That time really prepared me to make smart decisions on the water, interact with the media and fans and what it meant to be a champion.”
Matt also said finishing college is paramount.
“As much as I wanted to skip out on finishing school and start fishing the Bassmaster Opens working for an Elite invite, earning my degree was critical,” he said. “You never know what life is going to throw your way, and having a degree will lay the groundwork for a successful life regardless if you decide to fish as a pro or not.”
Daily takeoffs for the championship will be at 6 a.m. CT from Paul Bunyan Park, and weigh-ins will occur back at the park each day beginning at 2:30 p.m. However, fans can come out early and enjoy the Bassmaster Outdoors Expo featuring interactive sponsor displays and free giveaways beginning at 1 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.