The day after University of South Carolina anglers Hampton Anderson and Chris Blanchette teamed up to win the FLW College Fishing National Championship against 52 other schools, the two became foes, fishing against each other for a berth in the FLW’s Forrest Wood Cup.
Anderson came out on top, catching five fish that weighed 10-1. Blanchette’s bag of four fish went 6-6.
Called the “Battle of the Champions,” the one-day fish-off truly was such, pitting the new national champs against each other after a whirlwind week of putting their heads, experience, and skills together to make it back-to-back for the Gamecocks fishing team.
How hard is it to fight against the very guy that just a day before, you stood on stage with, hoisting the National Championship trophy after several grueling days of competing as a team?
“I didn’t want to fish against him, but that’s how it had to be settled,” said Anderson.
“This was the way to settle it, but I really needed my partner in the boat today, Blanchette said.
Still, Blanchette’s disappointment didn’t keep him from being happy for his partner.
“I wanted to go pretty badly. One of us was going to be disappointed regardless. I guess it worked out because he’s a deep-water fisherman, and it’s going to be the middle of August on Wheeler Lake,” Blanchette said.
The Forrest Wood Cup will be Anderson’s biggest tournament yet. He’s guaranteed a payday of $10,000, which is the amount the last place angler gets for fishing in the Cup. But he’s got a shot at much more. The top prize is $300,000, and Anderson is ready for the challenge.
“Obviously, my goal is not to finish in the ten grand range, but that is a great feeling to have this opportunity. I’m going to give it all I’ve got and see what I’m made of,” he said.
Anderson won the fish-off by catching bass on shakyheads and crankbaits, early for spotted bass, then upgraded by finding some largemouth biting later in the day.