Basscats learn about college fishing from Bass Anglers at UGA before Lake Seminole tournament

Published 4:48 pm Friday, January 13, 2017


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Anglers from around the Southeast gassed up their boats and came to Bainbridge this weekend to compete in two fishing tournaments: the YETI FLW College Season Opener and the Lake Seminole High School State Qualifier.

More than a hundred of them packed into the performing arts building at the Earle May Boat Basin Thursday night to come together over a meal of barbecue and a love for casting a line.

The University of Georgia fishing club, Bass Anglers at UGA, spoke to the Bainbridge Basscats about balancing fishing and academics, competition at the next level and how the sport has exploded onto the scene in such a big way.

Case in point: the Basscats themselves. Bainbridge has the second biggest bass fishing program among middle and high school teams in Georgia. It’s a natural fit, considering Bainbridge is the bass fishing capital of the state. But Bass Anglers at UGA President Jason Parisian said the Bainbridge team is proof that the sport is gaining popularity at schools, and is only a matter of time before it’s recognized as an official NCAA sport.

“It means a lot to get our name out there,” said Parisian, a sophomore engineering major. “The sport has grown so much, and this high school has 60 kids on their team. It’s grown through high school, and through college.”

In just one year, the UGA bass club went from seven members to 23. Though the majority of the club’s funding comes out of members’ own pockets, Parisian was optimistic that someday schools will pay anglers to fish on their team. To get to that point, though, they need to place well and gain recognition, he said.

“I hope one day we can have scholarships and come here and say, ‘Hey, we can give you a scholarship to come fish for us,’” Parisian said.

During the Q&A, parents and youth anglers asked the Bass Anglers at UGA questions about the expectations they have for their bass career. The advice was to fish as much as possible now, because there is no guarantee of going pro.

“I think it gives them a better understanding of what is required,” said Basscats coach Roy Matthews. “It’s a club sport, it’s a different beast. It’s not like getting recruited for football or things like that. I think it’s important for them to see and hear that it is not all Bassmaster Elites, Forrest Wood Cup. There is still an opportunity, at as big of a D1 school as Georgia is, you could wind up fishing.”

The Basscat Booster Club and other parents helped put together the meal for the evening, and the Bass Anglers at UGA were given special gift baskets as a thank you for speaking to the Bass Cats. Matthews thanked the sponsors that helped make the evening possible.

“Bainbridge has been really good about that,” Matthews said about the community backing the Basscats.

This Saturday, the State Qualifier Tournament on Lake Seminole will see the Basscats and teams from all over Georgia competing to earn a spot at the State Tournament in June.