Two members of MTSU’s Blue Raider Bass Anglers fishing club now have some great tales about the ones that didn’t get away.
Austin Wyatt, a 2017 graduate from Gladeville, Tennessee, and Mekiah Jack, a junior from Mount Juliet, Tennessee, competed in the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship on Wheeler Lake in Florence, Alabama.
The tournament, which was held May 31-June 3, pitted nearly 150 college bass fishing clubs against each other for $30,000 in prizes, including a new Ranger Z175 boat, and an entry into the world bass fishing championship, the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup.
The MTSU team placed 19th out of 138 teams in the tourney, catching nine fish weighing a total of 21.3 pounds over a two-day fishing stint. Only the top nine teams were allowed to advance to the third day of fishing, and a Kansas State University angler took home top prize. He’ll now advance to the world championship and a chance to win $300,000.
Wyatt fishes Percy Priest Lake, which is about 10 minutes from his home, and Old Hickory Lake, which is about 25 minutes away, as well as Chickamauga, Nickajack and Pickwick lakes in Tennessee. He said competitors get time to familiarize themselves with each lake before tournaments begin in earnest.
“We usually try to get there two to three days beforehand, get out on as much of the lake as possible, and use our depth finders,” said Wyatt.
Both Wyatt and Jack agree that competitive fishing involves much more than just rods, reels and lures. In addition to the depths, the entrants carefully check the weather and water clarity.
“I go on Google Earth and get a look at the lakes from that point of view,” Jack said.
The Blue Raider Bass Anglers was created in 2008. Members use their own boats and equipment, and most, like Wyatt and Jack, began fishing when they were children.
“Growing up, I always fished,” said Jack, who said he began competitive fishing while a junior in high school. “My dad got me into it at a very young age.”
“I’ve grown up fishing my whole life,” Wyatt said. “When someone asked me if I wanted to compete, I said, ‘Heck, yeah. I might as well do it.’”
While not exactly a relaxing way to spend time on the water, both anglers said they enjoy competitive fishing as well as recreational fishing.
“Sometimes it’s more like a job than fun, but we still have fun,” said Wyatt.
“I guess it depends on the person,” Jack added. “I’ve always been super-competitive, but most guys in these tournaments are.”
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)