Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Bass Club in New York E-mail
Saturday, 24 October 2009 06:11

kayak Fishing ClubKayak angling as a competitive collegiate sport is becoming an increasingly popular idea among university fishing teams.  Campus fishing clubs in New York, Florida, Texas and other states have discovered the value of kayaks as a means for experienced anglers in their ranks to put in more time on the water, as well as recruit and train new members.

Story and photos by Paul Shipman of Kayak Fishing Magazine

kayak Fishing Club
Kayak fishing is appealing to students for a variety of reasons. The perception that kayaking is an extreme sport by many college-age adults resonates well and adds to the interest and excitement. Kayaks also offer cash-strapped college students the ability to fish offshore in an economical manner. Because kayaks allow anglers to fish in virtually any accessible body of water, they provide a fantastic way to learn more about fish habits and how to catch them. This means increased catch success for student anglers, many of whom are new to the sport of fishing.

The ease of purchase, storage, maintenance and transport of kayaks make them a logical fit for university fishing clubs. Considering that a fully equipped fishing kayak can cost as low as $1000-$1500 versus tens of thousands of dollars for a bass boat, it is no surprise that student organizations across the United States are eagerly joining the kayak angling revolution. 

One such team is the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Bass Club in New York.  The club’s 20 or so members are primarily focused on freshwater bass fishing, with teams competing in the 2009 National Guard FLW College Fishing Series. The FLW tournament series provides university fishing teams with free use of a motorboat and travel allowances to compete in traditional bass tournament venues across five regions.  There are no entry fees to compete but the number of two-angler teams that each club is able to boat is limited. This limitation left RIT’s club officers wondering how they might provide quality fishing experiences for their members who aren’t able to participate in the FLW series.

RIT Bass Club President, Corey Smith, and fellow club officers and advisors put their heads together and decided that kayak fishing was the answer to their dilemma.  “We thought that the addition of kayak fishing as a club activity would provide a great way to teach new members how to fish. Practicing to fish from a kayak might also give us an edge in the larger boat fishing competitions in the future,” says Smith. 

RIT Bass Club members look forward to the day when they have a club bass boat to enter in traditional tournaments, but they are also excited to promote kayak fishing as a stand-alone competitive collegiate sport. This year, RIT team members will participate in regional kayak fishing tournaments and host their own charity event. They are also actively seeking sponsorship for kayaks and equipment.

For a growing number of young anglers, the kayak fishing seed is planted even before college. The Federation of Student Anglers (FSA, fishingstudents.com) is a team-oriented high school fishing program that has provided hundreds of Texas students with training and experiences in kayak fishing through its Intro to Kayak Fishing Courses. Due to its success in Texas, the FSA is expanding its promotion of kayak angling into other Gulf States. This effort at the high school level no doubt contributes to the formation of even more college teams.

Kayak fishing teams have already sprung up at Texas Tech University, the University of Texas, Texas State University, Texas Lutheran University and Baylor. At the University of Central Florida, The Reel Knights have acquired funding for club kayaks and members have begun competing in bass tournaments. As more college teams develop, many questions remain about the future direction of kayak fishing as a competitive sport. Should the college kayak tournament series adopt the rules of professional bass tournaments? Or, as RIT’s Bass Club asserts, should it stand on its own as an entirely new competitive sport?


Paul Shipman, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is co-founder of the Western New York Kayak Association, a regular blogger for www.fishgator.com and a member of the East Coast Kayak Fishing Team. He resides in New York’s Finger Lakes district with his wife and two children

 

 

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