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very nice boats. We see a wide range of boats
JASON HAWKSFORD, president of the fishing
at our events and have rules to ensure they
As its popularity grows, there’s the poten-
tial for schools to use the groundswell as
a recruiting tool, and with that may follow
scholarships. Right now there’s a distinct
year of offering bass-fishing scholarships,
intercollegiate sport. Because so few schools
offer fishing stipends, the ACA and tour-
naments such as the BoatU.S.-sponsored
Collegiate Championship try to help out. “To
have the most impact, rather than loading all
the prize money at the top, we help every
team at the events with gift cards, product
from sponsors, travel stipends, and help cov-
ering some meals on-site,” says Middleton.
club at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point, tells how the Big Dawgs do it.
“All told we give back over $100,000 in vari-
ous ways, all the way from first to last.”
Like many college athletes, the 4 a.m.
starts and the rush to put boat and bait away
before class are interspersed with the big-
gest lure of all, the chance to go pro. From
small qualifying events, college anglers hope
to break into the major made-for-television
affairs with glitzy podium ticker-tape celebra-
tions, considerable prize money, and spon-
sorship – and the incalculable lure of doing
this for a living.
“That’s really all I’ve wanted to do – my
brother and I both – is fish,” says Matt Lee.
“As we’ve gotten older, our love for fishing
has only grown. It’s all we think about. It’s
all we do.” In a sense, theirs, and that of
their fellow college anglers, is a quieter, purer
dream. Even in January and February when
most college students are bundling up to
watch football games, the fishing fraternity is
likely breaking ice on the lake, not for show
or glory, but for the love of the game.
For more on the BoatU.S. Cabela’s
Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, see