Unless you live within a couple hours of Due West, South Carolina you’ve probably never heard of a little college called Erskine, but the campus of 800 students is home to everything that’s good about college bass fishing.
This week, 22-year-old recent graduates Wyatt Reid and Gehrig DeFronzo are proudly representing the school at the Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship on Central Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes, but their passionate work along with coach Ryan Teems the last few years has nurtured the small campus to be a garden of growth for college bass fishing.
Coach Teems is only a year older than Reid and DeFronzo, but he helped start the bass fishing team and get it formally recognized by the campus leaders. Now they have about 20 students on the “Flying Fleet” fishing team and are offering bass fishing scholarships to high school students that want to attend Erskine.
Ironically, Reid started at Erskine on a golf scholarship and DeFronzo on a baseball scholarship as a middle infielder, but their passion for bass fishing will leave an absolute legacy and ease the tuition burdens of future Erskine bass anglers for decades to come.
Their home lakes include deeper clear reservoirs like Hartwell and Clarks Hill, so figuring out the shallow vegetation rich Harris Chain won’t be easy. But Reid caught nearly an 8-pounder in practice Monday, so there’s definitely reason for optimism.
When asked what the hardest college class they had to take at Erskine was, Reid cited a literature class, and DeFronzo, a pre-med major, quickly spotlighted organic chemistry, even though he earned an “A.”
But there’s no doubt both have set the curve for all that is great about college bass fishing during their time at Erskine.