The Process of Joining a College Fishing Team
The summer before I started at BGSU, you could find me with a rod and reel at one of my dad’s friend’s house, fishing almost every night. My dad and I started talking about the clubs I would join when I would get to campus, and to be honest, my mind went straight to business clubs or church clubs because I never imagined they would have a fishing club. My dad looked up all the clubs and told me they did have a fishing club! I was excited, but I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I didn’t want to be the only girl in the club and wasn’t sure how the guys would react.
At BGSU we have campus fest, where all the clubs come out and try to recruit people. I went and walked around talking to a lot of different clubs. I never talked to the fishing club though, I sent a picture to my dad and said, “There’s the fishing club, they brought their boat!”. That’s the closest I got to the club that day. I went through my first semester without joining… I guess it was purely nerves getting the best of me.
The second semester, I came to the realization that I needed to join, I missed fishing. That realization turned into the best decision I’ve ever made. I never knew I would make so many good friends or get to see so many beautiful sights.
Tackling College Fishing Tournaments
When I joined the club I never thought I would start tournament fishing, let alone did I know it even existed at the college level. I didn’t know if I would like tournament fishing, but once you start, you run the chance of catching the bug that makes you want to fish every tournament you can.
Let’s just say, I caught the bug…
My first tournament was a club fundraiser which had around 20 boats. It was a great experience and really showed me what a tournament day looked like. I was excited for the next one, but it was going to be on a much bigger platform. My second tournament was the Yeti FLW College Northern Regional at Chautauqua Lake in New York. It was an eye opener to say the least.
There were around 90 boats at that tournament. That got a little intimidating for me, but once I saw that I wasn’t the only girl there, I felt a little better. There was even a girl who graduated from Kent State that came up to me after the weigh-in and told me she was happy to see I was there. It was cool to see that she had fished in some tournaments and was still there supporting her team.
During my first tournament I caught two fish the entire day and neither one of them were big enough to weigh-in. My second tournament produced similar results, I caught one bass that didn’t measure either.
Learning Through Trial and Error
I am happy to say that those tournaments taught me a ton. I was able to hone in on techniques and baits and learn how to find better fish! The progress has been amazing and the studying is paying off. The past few tournaments, I have been catching fish that we are weighing in and even won big bass a few weeks ago.
My partner on the BGSU team, Hayden Hoffman, and I with a nice bag from one of our FLW College Northern Regionals!
I’ve learned a lot during the past year and a half of tournament fishing. Especially how mentally and physically demanding this sport is. I played three sports all throughout high school and I have never come home as worn out as I have after fishing a tournament.
Another learning, the college tournament environment can be difficult sometimes. I have made some good friends from other schools, but I’ve also been ignored a lot. I’ll get a lot of looks at the ramp and weigh-ins that seem to be questioning what I’m doing there. Who knows, maybe they’re just scared to get beat by a girl…
Fishing with the Guys
Guys are different than girls in a lot of ways and that’s evident, even in fishing. I fish with the guys from the club often and it’s been a lot of fun but it can a little frustrating. The guys sometimes forget that a girl is around when we are all together and end up having to apologize for what they did or said. I have thick skin, so it’s never been a big issue.
When I fish with the guys and it’s not in a tournament setting, we always make it a challenge to see who can catch the biggest fish. My fishing buddy Matt and I do the same when we are out fishing. It always makes things interesting.
Matt Vermilyea and I with a solid sack of smallmouth from a tournament!
I must admit, there have been times that I have struggled to do what the guys are able to do. For example, when I cast, they may be able to cast a little farther than I can or they might have more experience than me in a certain technique. I just remind myself that I am still learning and one day, I’ll be able to do exactly what they do, it’s just going to take a little practice.
Female Fishing Influencers
I can’t pick any specific females that influenced me to start tournament fishing. I actually didn’t know that there were as many as there are. At the Columbus Fishing Expo, I went to a seminar that was for female fishing. It was led by two ladies who talked about the techniques that they use. I talked to them afterwards and asked a few questions about gaining respect in the fishing community.
They told me that I needed to focus on my own growth, start bringing consistent fish to the stage and to not let others affect how I fish. I have started to notice that the more tournaments I fish, or the more I fish in general, I have started to gain more respect from the guys. At tournaments they start to remember who I am and will talk to me. The guys in the club respect me more because they know how seriously I take fishing.
The more I have learned about fishing and the more I have started to get to know that there are a lot of girls that love to fish and fish competitively. It motivates me to see other females making a name for themselves in this sport. I’m following females on social media that love to fish they have had a huge influence on me. It reminds me that I’m not really alone, even when I’m the only girl that I see at the ramp or at a the weigh-in.
Advice for Females Who Love to Fish
My advice for the ladies who want to get into fishing or may already fish is this, I recommend always being yourself and be open to learning new things. That may seem like a little cliché, but it is what I have really found to be true. I have always been open to new things and it has opened so many doors for me. I am now able to fish so many more techniques because I have fished with so many different people who are willing to help me learn on the water. Fishing has opened up the door to so many new friends and given me so many opportunities, not only with the BGSU team, but outside the team as well.
Take risks and give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed!