As we prepare for this week’s FLW National Guard College Fishing National Championships I thought it’d be interesting to get a sneak preview from CNU’s Ryan Ingalls and Indiana University’s Steve Bressler. IU has been in the past three FLW National Championships and CNU finished 5th place in last year’s competition. Both teams are poised for the title this year! Now lets not waist another minute and cut to the chase.
First up, CNU’s Ryan Ingalls. He has placed in the top 10 five different times and won $62,000 dollars in his college campaign. There’s no doubt this angler has what it takes to win the 2012 National Championship.
Jordan: How’d you prepare for this year’s FLW National Guard College Fishing National Championship?
Ingalls: I graduated in December and have put off my job search until after the National Championship. This allowed me to spend a lot of time on Lake Murray to learn the lake and try to prepare us for the tournament. I was in Columbia for 24 days with 20 days on the water. I ran into a few boat issues along the way that held me off the water for the full time I was there. Derek was able to make it down for a few days as well to see and learn the lake. Overall I covered most of the lake that I wanted to and believe we have located several key areas, which will produce for us come tournament time. We caught a lot of fish on Whiskey River Bait company lures as well as a few other key baits.
Jordan: Is there pressure to do better than you did at last year’s national competition?
Ingalls: Nobody has put any pressure on us to do better than last year. Making the top 5 last year was an incredible experience and I dream that we can do that, or improve this year. It is an accomplishment to make it back to the championship for a second year in a row. I’ve personally put an immense amount of pressure on myself throughout the whole year since this is my final season of competition. Whether it was qualifying for the FLW National Guard College Fishing Regional Championship or the National Championship, I have continued to keep that pressure on myself throughout pre fishing. This is my last college tournament, there is only one goal this year, and that is to win the National Championship.
Jordan: What’s your plan for the tournament?
Ingalls: As everyone knows Lake Murray is Blue Black Herring Lake, come tournament time they should be chasing the herring pretty consistently. On the practice day, we plan to run many way points that we have logged from pre-fishing so we can narrow them down to the most productive ones. Also, there will be some fish that’ll have pulled off of their beds, but I do not expect the tournament to be won targeting those fish.
Jordan: What are a few teams you think will be in the hunt other than yourselves?
Ingalls: It’ll be anyone’s ball game following the 10-day off limits that is imposed by the FLW, and it’ll be the team that can establish where they need to be fishing come Day 1. I believe all the southeastern teams are in the hunt here since they have fished blue back herring lakes in the past. You just can’t count anyone out with the amount of talent in the field! When I was there I saw everyone pre fishing, even the California guys! These are the best up-and-coming anglers in the country and they’re here for the same reason I am, to win a National Championship!
Now let’s hear from Indiana University’s Steve Bressler…
Steve Bressler will be competing in what is his first FLW National Guard College Fishing National Championship beginning today! To say he’s excited may be the greatest understatement of his life! He’ll be fishing with Dustin Vaal, who is no sluff either! Dustin’s never-ending college fishing resume concludes with 2 Regional Championship wins and qualifying for 3 National Championships. The only thing that this angler has not conquered is a National Title and this is his final shot to do it!
I sat down with Steve to dissect what is going on in his head as he approaches this mammoth of a task. It’s no walk in the park taking down 24 other teams to win the National Title of Fishing Champion. As you’ll see, these guys are as fishing crazy as I am, and there’s no doubt that they have the skills, the smarts, and the correct mindset to win it all! Whether they finish 1st or 25th, these two anglers have what it takes to bring home the crown without question!
Jordan: What does your tournament schedule include this year?
Bressler: The lakes we’ll be fishing this year will be different. We’ll be fishing nationals at Lake Murray, South Carolina, Boat US National Championship at Pickwick Lake, Alabama, FLW Qualifier at Kentucky Lake, FLW Qualifier at Lake Shelbyville, Illinois, FLW Qualifier at Mississippi River in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Then, an ESPN College Bass Super Regional at Mississippi River in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
Jordan: How did last year’s experience at Lake Kinkaid for the Regional Championship prepare you for this year’s National Championship?
Bressler: Last year’s experience at Lake Kinkaid was incredible. It was a thrill to be able to qualify for the FLW College Fishing National Championship. It was difficult fishing for a tournament were the size limit had to be 16 inches. Throwing back 2 and a half pound fish in a tournament because they weren’t long enough was tough to swallow. At Lake Murray, the size limit is 12 inches luckily. It doesn’t hurt that this is Dustin’s 3rd National Championship either!
Jordan: What did you do to prepare for this tournament and how was it in comparison to waters you typically fish?
Bressler: Lake Murray has definitely been an exciting experience. Dustin and I spent our whole Spring break week down there practicing for this tournament. This lake is unlike any other lake in Indiana. Yes, there is the same water clarity as a lake like Clear Lake, but instead of the main bait source of perch and bluegill Lake Murray has blueback herring. These fish are a horse of a different color you could say. They are scared of the sounds of boat motors, and are moving in constant schools across the lake, except when they go shallow to spawn. They become active when the sun comes out and move back deep when it is overcast. Much different than standard gizzard shad we are use to at our home Lake Monroe near Bloomington, IN.
While we were there practicing during our schools Spring Break, and we had a great time together fishing for what would be the biggest tournament of our lives thus far. The first day we got there we spent most of the day just attempting to dissect the massive lake into parts. Lake Murray is roughly 50,000 acres in size and surrounded by boat docks. Not our favorite type of fishing, but since I have grown up fishing clear water lakes I feel pretty confident in our abilities.
Jordan: What were some of the bigger fish you caught on Lake Murray?
Bressler: Over the week practicing we spent most of the week just cruising around and seeing what Lake Murray had to offer. We found some areas that we feel could be very good during the tournament. In one of these areas I caught one 7lbs 15oz — the biggest bass of my life so far! Dustin also caught another one that went 5lbs 8oz. So we know were the big girls are at. It’s just going to come down to getting them to bite.
Jordan: What is your “Plan of Attack”?
Bressler: During practice there was a first wave of bed fish starting to move up and spawn. The spawning has been going on still and we will probably be hitting the tail end of it. If this is the case, then all of those post spawn fish will back out to some of the main lake and secondary points near their spawning coves. Also, there should be a herring spawn just starting so that should be exciting. From what we’ve heard, that can be one of the most intense times fishing these blueback lakes. Bass will literally annihilate top water lures such as Spooks, Sammies and even flukes.
As the tournament is getting ready to start this weekend they are pumped like no other! After scrambling to get done with up homework and taking exams of the classes they will miss while we are gone at nationals Bressler said, “It’s exciting knowing that a win at this tournament could change our lives forever, putting us one step closer to fishing for a living. A purse of $100,000 can go a long way and also advancing to the Superbowl of bass fishing, the Forest Wood Cup, where the winner takes home $600,000.”
Indiana University is one of the many Fishidy.com sponsored teams fishing in the FLW College Series, but they are the only team competing in the national championship! Led by two great college competitors, Dustin Vaal and Steve Bressler, the Hoosiers are looking to storm this year’s championship with their great knowledge of the sport and fierce competitive edge they hold.
You can watch the action and live weigh-ins at CollegeFishing.com. Please check out and cheer on two of the sports greatest competitors in Ingalls and Bressler! In the mean time, go on Fishidy.com and check out all of latest features that can get you in the game just like these college fishing studs! It makes a world of difference beginning to end, preparation, hot spots and a personal log. What more could you ask for in a fishing website?
Now go get Fishidy!