Fishing in College: Clubs for Anglers

Explore every aspect of college fishing, including fishing clubs, fishing scholarships and competitive college fishing teams.

Did you know that fishing is one of the fastest-rising organized activities among college students? In the fall of 2010, Bethel University students Jake Lawrence, Jacob Hardy, and Lauren Stamps were awarded athletic scholarships for competitive fishing, marking the first time this has happened for one of America’s oldest traditions.

Unlike most athletic scholarships, academics are just as much a part of the qualifications as fishing ability. Whether you’re looking to join a competitive fishing team and enter national tournaments or simply want to continue your hobby, about 220 universities across the country offer fishing clubs.

Each school is placed in a division depending on region, and the top five teams in each qualifying event move on to the regional championships.

Different College Angling Clubs

There are many different styles of fishing, and what’s available to you will depend largely on your school. Bass fishing is among the most popular forms because most competitive tournaments are bass fishing championships. Schools such as Indiana University and Purdue University focus almost exclusively on bass fishing.

The University of Tennessee, on the other hand, has a fly fishing club. In addition to weekly meetings and fishing excursions, the group works to keep local rivers clean and hosts free lessons for beginners. Other groups practice a variety of styles. The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, emphasizes bass fishing, but the club participates in salmon, walleye and muskie fishing as well.

Most clubs offer a mix of competitive and recreational fishing, so you can structure your involvement around your interests and schedules. One of the unique perks of fishing clubs is that many, like the University of Michigan Fishing Club, organize activities during the summer for students who stay on campus. At UW – Whitewater’s club, you don’t even need to have a boat or equipment. The group provides all this for you.

Best College Fishing Clubs

The top five fishing clubs for 2010 were North Carolina State University, Auburn University, the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Virginia Tech and the University of Wisconsin – Madison. These rankings were compiled based on a number of factors: proximity to water (the University of Wisconsin is set on two lakes); funding (Virginia Tech receives sponsorship from the state lottery); and results in major tournaments (North Carolina State has won two national championships).

In general, colleges in the south and Midwest were found to have the greatest amount of interest and resources in fishing clubs.

FLW College Fishing Championship

The National Guard FLW College Fishing Tournament is the largest competition for college bass fishing clubs in the United States. You will have to purchase a membership to FLW Outdoors, but registration for the actual tournament is free.

Each school is placed in a division depending on region, and the top five teams in each qualifying event move on to the regional championships. The top five teams from each region then move on to the national championship. Both the regional and national championships are televised, and cash prizes range from $2,500 to $50,000.

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