Introduction To College Bass Fishing
Collegiate Bass Fishing is one of the fastest growing sports in college. This is the opportunity for college students to fish tournaments like the pros while still getting their education and also paying much less for fees like tournament entries. The list of locations where competitive bass fishing at the collegiate level is already large, and growing. To help you out, we have listed all of the teams below and have provided links to their main pages to get you started in your search. The goal of this “textbook” is to help someone who is interested in fishing during their college career by providing all the information they could want in one easy to reach location.
Within this “textbook”, we will cover the tournament series that support collegiate programs, provide a list of current programs, help you get on a team, and give you tips for becoming a better college angler. We are targeting all levels of anglers in this outline, from a high schooler looking to the future to a sophomore who just realized their school has a team.
At its core, college fishing is a sport of camaraderie. Your teammates will become some of your best friends and it will provide an escape from the busy college campus lifestyle. Even if you just like to fish for fun, the majority of teams have a club portion as well that is focused on getting on the water, whenever, to enjoy the sport of angling and better your skills.
Introduction To College Bass Fishing
FLW College Series
The first tournament series we will discuss is the FLW or Fishing League Worldwide. One of the key things about this series is that FLW makes it very simple to fish a tournament. The costs to fish are relatively low with a $75 entry fee per tournament. There is also a competitor membership that must be purchased to fish the FLW tournaments. The format of the average tournament is a one-day event with a payout going to the top five teams in the form of a check to the school to be put towards your bass club or tuition.
Each team consists of two members from the same university fishing out of the same boat. The top 10% of finishers of the tournament also qualify for the National Championship. Each of the five FLW regions have three regional tournaments where you have the chance to place in the top 10% and fish the championship with some of the best in the country.
Once the five regional tournaments plus an open event are completed, the top finishers from each tournament in each part of the country meet on one body of water for a three-day national championship where the winning team earns the prize of a brand new Ranger boat, scholarship money, and then fish off against each other for an entry into the FLW Forrest Wood Cup.
Additionally, beginning in 2020, both members of the second, third, and fourth-place teams at the 2020 National Championship will advance to the BFL All-American to compete as Boaters in the event. Also, both members of the fifth and sixth-place teams at the event advance to the All-American to compete as co-anglers. In addition, each angler finishing in the top ten at the national championship will receive an entry into the FLW Series.
College B.A.S.S. Series
In order to be eligible to fish the BASS College Series, every member of the universities fishing club needs to be a current B.A.S.S. member and pay $20 club dues even if they are not fishing in the series. (The $20 is for your BASS nation membership, a B.A.S.S. membership must be bought separately for $10)
BASS also requires that your bass team must be an official organization on your campus, have a faculty advisor assigned to the club, and have a minimum of 2 anglers. Last but not least, the club president must fill out a form on BASS’s website with all of the clubs members and information, which could be found here: BASS Registration
After the club gets registered, now the teams interested in fishing the tournaments can register for specific tournaments. BASS breaks their tournaments into four regions: Central, Eastern, Southern, and Western.
Unlike the FLW series, BASS has come out with a team of the year award, which is based off a point system where teams earn points for their finishes in every tournament. This means that schools are eligible to fish any of the regional tournaments no matter where their school is located.
After the four regional events, the team with the most points is crowned Team Of The Year and is awarded very hefty prize packages from the sponsors of BASS. Besides trying to win team of the year, the other objective of fishing the regionals is to qualify for the national championship.
Berths are awarded as follows:
Under 50 boats in the field, 10% of the field is awarded a berth
51-59 boats in the field, Top 10 for the tournament are awarded a berth
Over 60 boats in the field, B.A.S.S. invites an additional team for every additional 10 boats entered
51 boats = 10 berths
60 boats = 11 berths
70 boats = 12 berths
State BASS Nation organizations also run qualifying tournaments in their home state in which teams can qualify for BASS’s national championship by being the highest finishing college team.
If teams are not able to make their state nations tournament, they are able to pick a surrounding states nation tournament but, teams are only allowed to fish one per season. Qualifying events – regionals and state qualifiers – are usually concluded by the end of June and then a final roster is set for the National Championship.
The National Championship location is announced some time in May so that anglers can arrange all of their hotels, campsites, etc. The derby is almost always set for some time in the middle of July and could ultimately be anywhere in the country. The teams fishing the national championship battle it out for a chance at a national championship trophy and an opportunity to fish in the super bowl of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
Cabela's Collegiate Cup
The Cabela’s Collegiate Cup program is similar to the other two entities. These tournaments are team tournaments that are offered regionally, or in individual states depending on what area of the country your college is located in. You can register for events here.
The program runs qualifying events throughout the country each year. These qualifying events all lead to the main event of the year, the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship! This championship includes collegiate anglers from around the country, all competing for the top spot!
The coolest thing about the Cabela’s Collegiate Cup series is there is another incentive for every college team out there. The School of the Year
. Similar to B.A.S.S.’s Team of the Year, this School of the Year race includes points from every major college tournament including BASS and FLW tournaments, to provide each school a chance to prove they are the top competitors in collegiate fishing!
Teams battle neck and neck throughout the season to emerge victorious, and it definitely adds an extra version of competition outside of each tournament. It truly comes down to which teams compete and finish the highest as a group.
Did you know college fishing teams are using the ANGLR fishing app to gain a competitive advantage during practice?
Let's Talk About College Fishing Rules
Below are links to the rules for each of the three major college fishing series. These links will cover all you need to know about what you can and can’t do according to each organization!THESE RULES ARE ON A MUST KNOW KIND OF BASIS!
FLW College Series Rules
College B.A.S.S. Series Rules
Cabela’s Collegiate Cup Rules
College Fishing Unwritten Rules and Etiquette
These unwritten rules and general etiquette recommendations are easier to put in a list of Do’s and Don’ts! Read up on these to avoid embarrassment on or off the water.
College Fishing Do’s
- Promote the sponsors of your school whenever it makes sense! They put a lot into you and your team, so that effort should be reciprocated.
- Spend time on the water as often as possible… this is where learning occurs. While you’re out there, try different techniques and become comfortable fishing in a variety of ways!
- Frequent communication as a team is a must. As we said, this team will become your family, so keeping a line of communication is key. We recommend using the GroupMe app.
- Respect… it’s a must at all events. Specifically, stay in line when at sanctioned events like fundraisers, parades, or conventions, as these will be where people are watching you the most. Present yourself with dignity and pride because as we said, when you make the team, you now represent more than yourself, you represent your university.
- When you’re on the water, stand your ground but be polite. You may encounter close quarter fishing, so be polite but by all means, don’t let them catch the fish you’ve found. Being able to banter with competitors on the water is important, but always try to remain polite with this banter.
“Branding in this industry is tough, what I have found is that being honest both with myself and with my friends (fans) works best. Supporting the products and companies I believe in has proven to work well for me. Hard work pays off, try starting a relationship with your local shop or even business who may not have direct ties to the water. Support those who you believe in and show them that they can believe in you.”
– Gene Jensen aka. Flukemaster on College Fishing Advice
College Fishing Don'ts
- This one is more than a Don’t, it’s a NEVER… Never, ever go out drinking or partying in your jersey. The same rules that every other athlete on campus follows. It should never even cross your mind as an option.
- Don’t wear your jersey to class if it is not a designated “Jersey day”. You might not think so, but you’ll look ridiculous.
- It’s always bad to overstep your teams President or Vice President. Stay in communication if there is an issue to be taken care of.
- Don’t over promote your sponsors to the point that it’s overtly forced. If you haven’t seen these kind of people yet, you will. Don’t be the person that oversells to the point that nobody wants to hear about your sponsors because that’s all you talk about. As we said earlier, do it when it feels natural.
Where Are College Fishing Tournaments Held?
Here’s the 2019 schedules for each series! Check them out to see some of the big name lakes college anglers get to compete on in 2019!
FLW College Fishing – 2019 Schedule
College BASS Series – 2019 Schedule
Cabela’s Collegiate Cup – 2019 Schedule
If those didn’t prove to you that college anglers get to fish some of the biggest most well known lakes in the country, here’s the schedules from the past 4 seasons!
FLW College Series Tournament Schedules: 2015
College BASS Tournament Schedules: 2015
Cabela’s Collegiate Cup Schedules: 2015
What Does College Fishing Cost?
Now you’re thinking like a true college kid!
Honestly, it depends on the school. Some schools offer scholarships to fish for their program, while others simply recruit from students that are already enrolled come introduction day. The programs that offer scholarships have been known to cover a good chunk of costs, while the other programs leave it up to the anglers. This is where fundraising becomes of the utmost importance!
Your main costs in college fishing will always be: Gear, Gas, and Food.
As we said in the beginning, the coolest part about college fishing is being able to fish major tournaments, without breaking the bank in entry fees. So, the three organizations cover their cost by instilling membership costs. These are normally very affordable and some schools do cover these costs.
FLW College Series Dues: In the FLW college series events, any individual from the club is allowed to fish. The dues to fish this series are $75 per team, per tournament and are due upon entry. There is also the requirement that before you fish the tournament you must register for a FLW “competitor” membership. This is a yearly membership that FLW requires you to have in order to fish any of their tournaments. This membership will allow you to not only fish the college series but also any other tournament you would like to enter that FLW hosts. The dues for this membership are $75 a year (membership runs up 365 days from date of purchase).
College BASS Dues: In order to be eligible to fish the BASS College Series, every member of the club needs to be a current B.A.S.S. member and pay the $20 club dues even if they are not fishing in the series. The $20 is for your BASS nation membership, a B.A.S.S. membership must be bought separately for $10.
Cabela’s Collegiate Cup Dues: The Cabela’s Collegiate Cup is the only series that has no dues whatsoever! This includes yearly or for each individual tournament. The only expense is in gear and travel costs!
How To Win A College Bass Fishing Tournament
Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into being the best in these college fields. With as many boats as there are, your day simply has to go right… when it’s mean to be, you’ll know! But, in the mean time, here are three tips to focus on when preparing to win a college bass fishing tournament:
- Consistency is key! You have to realize that you will not win them. If you thought you were going to… sorry! What is really important is figuring out how to put a limit in the boat at every body of water. From there, you can build on what you know. Being consistent is easier said than done, but it is key in the college fishing world!
- Preparation Tactics. Whether it’s organizing your tackle, or cleaning your reels, you’ll need to be prepared for derby day. With everything that has to happen for a great day on the water, don’t leave anything to chance. Be organized and prepared for tournament day!
- Study, Study, Study! Check out old film and videos from that lake. Know your bottom compositions. What kind of fish (Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass) and what quality sizes are key. Where the fish are at in the lake and where they seem to stage in water column. There is a ton of information to study and learn prior to ever hitting the water for these events! ANGLR’s free app can help you narrow down some key areas without even being near the water.
ANGLR is a fishing intelligence platform that consists of a free fishing app, optional tracking accessories, and a community of avid anglers.
High School Preparation
Setting yourself up for future success and your college fishing career.
Nothing can replace time on the water for setting yourself up to be a quality angler. Use this time to find a mentor to help you gain knowledge fast and show you how to find fish and how to catch them.
You don’t need 40 rods with the newest reel on the market.
Try to get about 5 rods that you can use for different techniques and learn how to catch each rod. If you have an area to cast, make about 100 casts a day. These casts don’t even have to be in the water. Throw a bucket or hat out in the yard and move yourself about every 10 casts.
You aren’t expected to know everything at the high school level so don’t act like you do.
One thing that will help you a lot, especially in the beginning of your fishing career is attitude. I can’t explain enough how attractive it is to sponsors to have good communication and a stable attitude at that young of an age. If you have some downtime during tournaments, conventions or other events make it a point to say thank you and introduce yourself with a handshake while looking someone in the eyes.
These things can set you apart from all of the anglers before you even make a cast, it is also nice to show your appreciation to those who are making everything happen for you. If you truly want to get better, plug yourself into a club somewhere and the older men or woman will naturally want to help you become a better angler.
What this new generation has that the older generation didn’t have was the internet though. We have the access to everything we want to know. There are some great blogs, articles and YouTube videos that will show you exactly how to catch them down to the line you’re using. Use these tips and resources and you will become a collegiate level angler in no time.
Teams Vs. Individuals
What it’s like to fish on a team, but still have individual goals
Fishing as a team can really test an angler. It certainly has its perks, two different baits in the water can help your team home in on what the fish want much faster than if you’re alone. However, this really comes down to how well your fishing styles match up. If you’re both finesse fishermen, or both power fishermen, this can be both a positive and a negative. Honestly, it comes down to knowing each others strengths and levying them to put more fish in the boat.
Another interesting aspect of this can be dealing with two anglers who want to run the front of the boat. This boils down to taking turns and allowing both members of the team to have control of the boat throughout the day. Constant communication is key.
What can be very difficult about fishing in college is coming to terms with your own goals. Do you want to fish professionally, or even semi-professionally after college? Does your partner? We suggest talking with your partner about these goals prior to ever hitting the water. It may help further the understanding you feel for your partner’s mentality in those high pressure situations.
One major thing to keep in mind, is to not get caught up constantly in what your partner suggests or wants to do.
Like everything else in life, it is sometimes easier to let someone else make the decisions in a high pressure situation, say final day of a national championship. If you have the goals as fishing in bigger tournaments one day after high school, be sure to be making suggestions on what to do just as much as your teammate, and try making tough calls together.
You want to work as a team to do well but you also want to constantly be thinking about if you would make that same decision if you were fishing alone. The biggest thing is to try and learn from each other as much as possible, not every angler is going to fish the same exact way.
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