Varsity Bass Fishing Debutes
PITTSBURGH, PA – In April 1988 Professor Steven Lutz of Indiana University organized the first collegiate bass competition in the country. It was just between members of the university bass club and was a novel combination of shore fishing and boat fishing. That’s “boat” in the singular: “It was a humble beginning. I would take one student at a time in my boat while the other students stood and fished on the bank at Lake Monroe, and every 30 minutes, I would go back to the ramp and trade students.”
Cast forward 30 years and through fits and starts varsity fishing has finally arrived as a viable organized club sport at the nation’s colleges and high schools. In fact, it’s claimed to be the fastest growing varsity club sport in the country. Key players such as FLW, B.A.S.S., The Bass Federation, and the Association of Collegiate Anglers have stepped forward to organize national tournaments. The fishing and marine industry has responded with scholarships and prize money into six figures for some events.
Fishing journalist Craig Buddo has been following the rise in the sport for several years and has launched a new web site devoted to the topic called VARSITY BASS, http://www.varsitybass.com.
“The idea was to create an independent up-to-the-minute sports blog devoted to all the national and regional college and high school tournaments, and to cover developments in the sport as it continues to grow into the mainstream of college sports. There’s a tournament calendar, a state-by-state list of college clubs, a forum for connecting with other varsity anglers, and many other features in the works.”
Its launch coincides with tremendous growth in varsity fishing in 2012. Consider:
-- Varsity Bass has compiled a list of 298 active college bass clubs, with at least one in all lower 48 states.
-- The winner of the FLW National Collegiate Championship took home a check for $100,000 and a spot in the FLW Cup. The College B.A.S.S. Classic Bracket winner booked a place at next year’s Bassmaster Classic. Tournament finals regularly air on cable TV.
-- Kentucky and Illinois now officially sanction a high school bass fishing state championship, and several other states are on the verge of doing so.
-- Tennessee’s Bethel University offers the two winners of the High School Fishing World Finals scholarships worth $20,000 each and a place on the Bethel Bass Cats fishing team.