I still vividly recall looking at the list of names and schools five years ago and wondering what I was going to see, who would actually show up and what would happen as we got ready for our first BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship.
More than 150 colleges and universities throughout the nation have recognized fishing clubs and we knew that college bass fishing was growing in popularity. The feeling was pretty much the same for anyone throwing a party and wondering who might show up!
I’ll also never forget that feeling of goose bumps that I had as I walked away from the first event and the feeling of WOW, there is a whole generation of anglers out there that has no outlet for their fishing passion. At that time, our first championship was the largest competitive collegiate bass fishing event ever held. Over the next few years we saw more and more colleges embrace fishing and some clubs swell in ranks to over 100 members. We saw regional events pop up all over, more national opportunities, growth in television exposure and many fishing related companies embracing what we and others do for college fishing.
Fast forward to this coming championship to be held the week of May 24-28 at Lake Lewisville (TX) and we had to cap our field at 320 college anglers total. We’ve outgrown our main facility! This year’s banquet and event will provide more goodies for these college anglers than many of the top pros, receive more television exposure than any college fishing event ever held, and finally and best of all, it will showcase the future of not only our sport but also our country as these kids graduate and move out into the work force carrying with them a simple passion and love for fishing. It’s a great feeling. The experience and growth has left me personally – and our staff – with nothing but pride and a determination to keep the fire growing. Who knows what will happen in the next five years and beyond, but I can tell you I get e-mails from high school students now who ask me where they should go to college so they can bass fish…..who would have thought that five years ago when it started!
For more information on the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship visit www.collegiatebasschampionship.com.
Submitted by Wade Middleton, Careco Multimedia
Image: Vincent Campisano and Kalem Tippett from Murray State, 2009 Winners