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When it comes to the world of competitive college fishing, teams of all sizes are hitting the water in search of success.
For over a decade, however, few schools have boasted a more solid profile than the Auburn University Bass Fishing Team. In addition to featuring alumni like two-time Bassmaster Classic winner Jordan Lee, Auburn’s anglers often find themselves fishing in the nation’s most competitive tournaments.
In this edition of Premier Angler’s College Fishing Talk, we speak with Auburn Fishing’s vice president, Logan Parks.
Parks is a junior currently workings towards a double major in Supply Chain Management & Information Systems Management. We will discuss his personal fishing journey, the benefits of competing for a powerhouse squad, the challenges and logistics of maintaining such a large student-led operation.
Talking College Fishing with Logan Parks, Auburn University
Premier Angler: Auburn University has cemented its status as one of the top college fishing teams in the country since its inception in 2007. What does it mean to you to be part of such a historically successful squad?
Parks: It really is an honor to be on such a great team with such a great history.
My fishing partner and I both went to high school together at Auburn High, where we started a fishing team in 8th grade. Jordan Lee came and spoke to us at one of our first meetings in his Auburn jersey and at that moment, I knew that is what I wanted to do.
I came to Auburn with the goal of continuing the fishing team legacy at a great school while doing all that I can to improve it for future members.
I am proud each time I put that jersey on because it means something to me — to go to Auburn and fish you have to be successful not only on the water but also in the classroom.
Auburn is not just another fishing school that gives a bunch of scholarships to just anybody — everyone here on our team works extremely hard to be here because if they don’t, they won’t be here long. I am extremely proud to be part of a team full of smart, mentally strong individuals and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Premier Angler: What do you think has separated Auburn’s bass fishing team from other college fishing teams? To what do you attribute the team’s success over the years?
Parks: What separates Auburn from any other college fishing team is the individuals on it. We have one of the biggest teams in the country with over 70 members this season and they all work extremely hard to make the AU Bass Team the best it can be. We wouldn’t be who we are if it weren’t for them.
Each year we nominate a select few to be officers for our team and these guys go above and beyond to help make the team successful.
A big difference between our team and others that I think probably separates us the most is that we are 100% student led. We do not have a coach or anyone helping us out; it is up to us to get things done.
As a D1 school that is much larger than most of the schools we compete against, we do not get funded like some of these private scholarship schools. Auburn gives us almost no money, so that means that we have to go out and earn it ourselves if we want to be able to pay for travel to competitions.
I would say the team’s success lies not just in the hands of our hard-working officers, but in the team as whole. Our officers handle most of our sponsorship relations, but it is our team as a whole that makes the team attractive and grabs the attention of the sponsors. If it weren’t for our team’s consistent success on and off the water it wouldn’t be possible to raise the amount of money that we do.
Selfless people fishing for Auburn who want to make it better for everyone instead of just themselves attribute to our team’s success over the years. It takes hard work to stay at the top of the college fishing field and I think that the first part of Auburn’s creed sums it up best: “I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.”
Premier Angler: How does your team handle recruitment? Do you find that some team members come to Auburn specifically for fishing? How many team members do you usually have per year?
Parks: Recruitment is something we are still working on as a team. Unlike a lot of the small private schools, unfortunately Auburn cannot offer fishing scholarships.
However, what we can offer that these other schools cannot is a quality education at one of the best schools in the country. Graduating from Auburn University carries a weight that is unmatched by most every school we compete against and, in my opinion, will help you better prepare for the next level.
Whether you plan on trying to fish professionally, start your own business, or join the workforce after graduation, Auburn provides the best platform out there. I have found that people do come to Auburn for our fishing team — we’ve currently got one member who is from Canada and came to Auburn specifically to fish.
We have 4 or 5 new members every year that the fishing team was their deciding factor. They also have all said that they came to Auburn because of what else it offers as far as education, being in the SEC and having top ranked sports teams, Greek life, etc.
We currently have 71 members with about 10 graduating and 15 joining each year. We have constantly grown ever since I have been a part of the team.
Premier Angler: To follow up on that, is membership in the club open to all interested students or are there any specific requirements?
Parks: Membership is open to every student at Auburn University and we invite everyone to join.
There are several requirements: our dues are $250 per member, each member is required to raise $300 for the team through fundraising, and each member is required to complete two community service events.
If all of this is completed, each team member gets their jersey for free and all hotels/lodging are covered for them for the entire season.
Premier Angler: As one of the most competitive college fishing teams in the country, Auburn travels to numerous events throughout the year. This is obviously expensive. Without receiving much funding from the school, how have members been able to raise funds to offset the high cost of tournament fishing over the years?
Parks: Travel is definitely our highest expense when it comes to our season.
The way our team works, everyone is encouraged to go out and fish as many tournaments as possible. We want our team members to be able to afford to get out there and compete just like everyone else.
We pay for a place for everyone on the team to stay. For every day of the tournament, we pay for one night of pre-fishing (for example the FLW events are one day, so we get two nights while the BASS events are 3 days, so we get 6 nights).
We changed our bylaws this season to encourage people to not only go to these tournaments, but for them to do well. No matter how many boats go, we will reimburse boat and truck gas as well as oil for our top 3 finishing teams at the event. Depending on the number of teams we send, we will increase that number to 4 or 5 if we have a lot of teams going.
We raise our money through sponsors by selling spots on our jersey as well as selling booster banner spots. We also have several fundraisers we participate in.
Premier Angler: What are you looking for in a prospective team member? What advice would you give to someone looking to fish either for Auburn or at the college level in general?
Parks: We are looking for level-headed individuals who want to come to Auburn to fish.
We want guys to fish as much as possible — the more tournaments they attend, the more experience they gain and the more they learn. I would advise guys coming into it to fish as much as possible.
Focus more on why the fish are where they are instead of how to catch them. Finding fish is what they need to focus on. I would also advise them to fish without their high school captains so that they can become more independent leading up to college.
Premier Angler: One of the team’s major highlights was recently winning the first annual Major League Fishing Redcrest National Championship in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. What goes in to preparing for such a high-profile event?
Parks: We did a lot of studying leading up to this event. I focused a lot of my efforts on forums, web articles, and You Tube to figure out solid patterns that time of year.
I then channeled all of my research into map study using Google Earth to focus on areas that looked like high-profile areas based off what I found. Figuring out areas where the current hit — and being able to target the current seams — was everything.
Premier Angler: Auburn qualified for Redcrest after winning the MLF College Iron Bowl. How many events does the team participate in per year? What are some of the bigger events you have participated in? What are some of the highlights from those events?
Parks: We fish anywhere from 10-20 events in one season. This year, it is looking like we are going to get the opportunity to fish even more due to FLW opening up all of their college tournaments to everyone.
I have fished everything I possibly could since I’ve been at Auburn, including two Bassmaster College National Championships.
Some of my favorite memories from college so far have been finishing 3rd place at the FLW Southeastern on Chickamauga with 20-1 then coming in 6th at the Carhartt College B.A.S.S. event on Cherokee in back-to-back weekends, leading the Carhartt College B.A.S.S. event on the St. Lawrence River going into Day 3, and being the highest placing boat on Auburn at the Redcrest.
Premier Angler: Auburn has a history of producing high-level pros like Matt and Jordan Lee. Do you or any teammates have similar aspirations of joining the pro circuit after graduation? How has college fishing, especially at a school like Auburn, prepared you for that transition?
Parks: I think it is most everyone’s dream that is competing at the college level to try and take it to the next.
I met Jordan Lee when he was a college angler at Auburn, and he is the main reason why I decided to come to school here. I think that fishing all these events across the country through the college circuit has better prepared me than anything else to try and make that transition.
We compete on the same bodies of water that a lot of the professional circuits go to and I think that getting as much experience as possible at these places is key.
Premier Angler: You touched briefly on your high school fishing career and the influence Jordan Lee had on your fishing career, but let’s go back to the roots. How did you first get into fishing? Were there any other factors that led to your decision to fish at the college level?
Parks: I got into fishing by growing up pond fishing with my grandpa. He really got me into it and gave me a start. In 3rd grade, I met my fishing partner Lucas Lindsay and we became friends and started going fishing every day after school. We didn’t care what we were catching, it was just fun.
In 8th grade, we decided to start the Auburn High School Bass Team and that is when we first got our experience in competitive bass fishing. Ever since then, we have loved tournament fishing.
I would say Jordan Lee most influenced my decision to come to Auburn, but fishing at the college level has been something I’ve wanted to do ever since I began fishing tournaments.
Premier Angler: The team recently held the Pat Dye Fish Fry. You gave away some awesome prizes in a silent auction and had some high-profile guests scheduled. How did this event come about? What were some of the highlights from the event?
Parks: This event took a lot of planning and preparation. It was all made possible when we got featured on The Pat Dye Show and he asked us how we raised money and offered to help us out.
Even though it was cold, we had a great turn out at the event and were able to raise a lot of money for the team.
As you mentioned, we were able to silent auction off a lot of our sponsors’ products which was great to be able to get their stuff in the hands of some of our followers. It was great for fans to be able to eat dinner and hang out with our team as well as some of the big names in professional bass fishing like Steve Kennedy and Greg Vinson.
Premier Angler: How can interested parties find out more about the Auburn Bass Fishing Team?
Premier Angler: What else would you like people to know about you, the team, or college fishing in general?
Parks: I would just like to let everyone know how great of an experience it has been being able to be on the fishing team.
What we have is more than just being a team, we are a brotherhood and I have made a lot of friends that I will keep for a long time. I want these guys standing beside me at my wedding.
The Auburn University Bass Team is something special and I hope that everyone has a chance to take part in it.