So, You Want To Be a College Angler
Bass fishing has grown exponentially in the last 15 years. I remember when Casting Kids and the Jr. Bass Clubs were the pulse of kids coming into fishing. You started at the Federation level and dreamed of winning your state championship to compete in the Junior World Championship held in conjunction with a higher profile Federation Championship with BASS or the Forrest Wood Cup if you won on the FLW side. In current times Middle, High School, and College Fishing are now the pulse of the future of fishing and the new ladder if you are wanting to advance to the highest levels of competitive angling. Being a former college angler, I hope that I can give you some great insights to be “discovered” and fulfill your dreams of fishing the collegiate level.
It all starts at your high school, if you don’t have a team, make one. Find anyone who loves to fish, get with your faculty, and start a club. That was what I did. High school fishing had just begun, and clubs were popping up everywhere. Today, my school’s club has one of the largest membership rosters in the state. Who knows what you can begin when you stick your neck out, and begin something new. Remember, it isn’t just your fishing ability that will catch the eyes of college teams offering scholarships, but your character, scholastics, and community involvement. Who you are in many cases is much more valuable than what you can do. You can teach someone to fish, but it is much harder to teach someone character.
Don’t just pick a school strictly because they have a fishing team, get an idea of what you want to do. If you want to be an engineer, a liberal arts school that doesn’t offer engineering probably isn’t your best pick. I recommend that you look at what you want from a college, check a few out. If they don’t have a fishing program, make one. If they do, awesome! If you are banking on a scholarship, go visit the school you are wanting to attend and introduce yourself to the coach. Make good eye contact, firm handshake, and give them a reason to want you on their team.
Once you get there, you have to earn your keep. Keep your head down, nose out of the stupid things that college students sometimes get into, and prepare yourself. Be committed to your studies. You don’t have to have a week of practice to do well. I have found that often times, that actually hurt me. I would get so stuck on something, I wouldn’t see the pattern going on right in front of me. Remember, if you can’t hang in the classroom you aren’t going to be able to fish. Most schools require a minimum GPA to be able to take part in sports. Keep your GPA up, something is going to have to pay your bills when you graduate! Even if you do make it pro, most have a secondary source of income.
Don’t buy into the lie that you must have a 60,000 dollar rig to make you a successful angler. One of the best College Anglers I have come to know fished out of an aluminum Bass Tracker most of his career. It also makes you fly under the radar when you pull into your spots! You don’t have to have the best, the latest, or the greatest to make the top five. You just have to have the skills and mental attitude that makes most fisherman successful. I fished out of an almost 20-year-old Ranger boat for most of my college career. It wasn’t my boat that ever kept me from catching fish.
I hope that this gives you a bit of insight into what you need to get into the world of college angling. Anyone can do it, and any school can do it. That is the beauty of fishing. No matter if you are at the smallest Junior College in your state or a big powerhouse college, the playing field is level on the water. Your passion for the sport is the only thing that separates anyone. Below I am listing a few colleges that offer scholarships that may help boost your search in taking your passion to the next level.
Schools with Scholarships
∙ Bethel University
∙ Bryan College
∙ Mckendree University
∙ Adrian College