Fishing goals: Collegiate-level anglers share how it’s done

Clemson and USC college fishing teams are forces to be reckoned with. Aaron and Daniel talk about their teams and how you can become involved.

University of South Carolina student and USC Bass Fishing Team member

Fishing with Aaron Fewell

My name is Aaron Fewell, and I am the President of Anglers at USC, the University of South Carolina bass fishing team.

I am a rising senior majoring in Marine Science and am originally from Winfield, West Virginia. I have been in love with fishing and the outdoors since I was a little kid! In my home state, I grew up fishing small rivers and backwater areas from my kayak, as well as smaller lakes on a johnboat I rigged up like a bass boat.

 


When I initially came to the University of South Carolina (USC) I knew there was a bass fishing team, but didn’t know a whole lot about college fishing in general — and hadn’t had much experience tournament fishing. Here at USC, our team is considered a sport club by the University, so all you must do to join is attend our club meetings and pay our yearly dues. I encourage anyone who is interested in fishing to come to one of our meetings! We have members of all skill levels from different parts of the country

I joined as a freshman, and at the beginning of the spring semester I was elected to be the club’s secretary. Joining the club was a great way to make friends who enjoyed getting outdoors like me, and I’m sure many will be lifetime friends going forward. Since my freshman year, I have run our team’s social media accounts and helped with other logistics, until this past year when I was promoted to president of the club and took on more responsibilities.

Some people ask, “What is it you guys actually do?” Well, first and foremost, we mainly fish the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and BASS Southeastern College Fishing Circuits, as well as several Boat U.S. collegiate tournaments. In recent years, we have been one of the most successful college fishing programs in the country!

In 2015, team members Patrick Walters and Gettys Brannon won the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray right here in South Carolina! Then the following year team members Hampton Anderson and Chris Blanchette won it again on Lake Keowee! This year we came extremely close to a 3-peat with Patrick Walters and Gettys Brannon finishing 2nd on Wheeler Lake in Alabama. The rest of the team also had several top 10 finishes in qualifying tournaments from other team members at lakes ranging from Kentucky/Barkley Lake, Tennessee to Lake Seminole, Georgia.

Joining the club was a great way to make friends who enjoyed getting outdoors like me, and I’m sure many will be lifetime friends going forward.

Outside of the tournaments we fish across the Southeast, we also like to give back to the community and the younger generation of anglers. Last year we helped with a Boy Scout fishing rodeo at the Cohen Campbell Fish Hatchery. This year you probably saw us at the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic where we helped with another fishing rodeo. Here, the young anglers who caught a fish were given one of our t-shirts! In the past, several of our members have also spoken to various high school teams around the state.

As a team, we have great camaraderie. On the road for our tournaments we usually stay at the same hotels and the night before the tournament we will all go eat at a local restaurant. Each semester we also have a team tournament where we compete against each other for fun to win prizes donated by our sponsors. This past year we spent the weekend on Lake Marion thanks to Patrick Walters and his family. Also, Shimano invited us to an open house at their new facility in Ladson, S.C., we thoroughly enjoyed as well!

In recent years, we have been one of the most successful college fishing programs in the country!

Our biggest struggle as a team is raising money to support our travels to tournaments. We are barely funded by the University, so to raise money for the team we try to sell t-shirts made by Local Boys Outfitters, and hold fundraiser tournaments from time to time. Some sponsors also donate money to our cause such as Palmetto Boat Center and Founders Federal Credit Union. Some of our tackle sponsors such as Shimano, Fitzgerald Rods, Gambler Lures, Greenfish Tackle, Wolfstone Tungsten, and Hi-Seas Fishing Line give us great discounts on their products as well!

If you have any more questions or would like to contact the team, please shoot us an email at sofish@mailbox.sc.edu. Also, follow us on our Facebook, Instagram (usc_anglers), and Twitter (@anglersusc) pages for updates of what and how we are doing! Last, be sure to look for our booth at the upcoming Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in August! Thanks!


 

Clemson University student and Clemson Bass Fishing Team member

Fishing with Daniel Jones

Although I did not fish competitively in high school, I always kept up with the Clemson Bass Fishing team, and it was a dream of mine to join the team once I got to college.

My father and I have fished together since I was a child so he is what fueled my passion for the outdoors, fishing especially. Luckily now I have the opportunity to teach my nieces and nephews how to fish and instill that passion in them as well.

 

Clemson Bass Fishing Team | Photo courtesy Daniel Jones

The Clemson team had around 75 members during the 2016-2017 school year. Of those 75 members we have an officer team of eight people (President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Sponsorship Director, Tournament Director, Social Media Chair, and Members at Large (2)). During the school year we had quite a few memorable moments fishing competitively:

  • Derek Freeman and Robert White finished 12th in the FLW Southern Regional on Lake Guntersville (out of 248 boats), which qualified them to fish the FLW national championship
  • Baylor Ronemus and Cole Tinsley finished 13th at the Bassmaster Southern Regional at Winyah Bay and qualified for the Bassmaster National Championship
  • Derek Freeman and Robert White finished second out of 176 boats at the FLW Southeaster Regional on Lake Hartwell. Also two other teams; 1. Garrett Addis and Aaron Banquer-Glenn and 2. Matthew Bostic and William Burt qualified for the FLW National Championship.

I enjoy the sport of bass fishing because it is a very competitive sport that requires practicing beforehand, and once you are out on the water you have to be able to adapt in a variety of situations. If the fish are not biting, you have to change up whether its location, lure, or technique. That’s what I love about this sport, the variable conditions that go into having a successful turnout. Another great aspect of fishing is being on the water before sunrise, because getting to experience a sunrise on the water is one of the most beautiful sights one can experience.

There is a lot of camaraderie seen with members on the team. Before most national tournaments, members would practice well in advance to get experience on the lake and would meet up together to discuss fishing patterns and locations of potential hotspots. We also have weekly meetings to ensure members keep up with new sponsor information and upcoming events since we normally put on approximately eight team tournaments every semester for members to fish. Often times, members will go out to eat once a month. While a lot of friendships are made on the team, some members met in the high school circuit and others share the same major. With so many members we try to meet up as much as possible in order for underclassmen to meet with officers and returning members.

…Getting to experience a sunrise on the water is one of the most beautiful sights one can experience.

Being on a fishing team at Clemson University entails participating in at least three club tournaments a semester and helping with our fundraiser tournament each semester. We also do lake cleanups where we will go to an island on Lake Hartwell and clean up litter. As far as fishing is concerned, members who have boats often invite members without boats to fish with them. Our main goal is to keep members on the water so a lot of members practice often before or after class and even on the weekends as long as it doesn’t interfere with football season! The main goal in upcoming school years is to increase national tournament participation and to maintain team camaraderie.

To find out more about Clemson University’s fishing team, go to https://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-recreation/club-sports/.