College Fishing Talk: Florida State University’s Taylor Barton
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Situated in downtown Tallahassee, the students at Florida State University are never too far from the water in any direction.
With Lake Talquin and Lake Seminole to the west, Lake Jackson and Lake Iamonia to the north, Lake Miccosukee to the east, and Appalachee Bay to the south, there is no shortage of opportunities for quality fishing.
In this installment of Premier Angler’s College Fishing Talk, we speak with Taylor Barton, a junior environmental science major who serves as president of the FSU Bass Fishing Team.
Talking College Fishing with Taylor Barton, Florida State University
Premier Angler: To begin, can you tell us about the FSU Bass Fishing Team? What are the origins of the team? How are roster numbers looking?
Barton: The Bass Fishing Club at Florida State University is an open school club that provides both a social group based around a shared passion for the outdoors and the opportunity to compete in tournaments at a national level.
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The club has been a small social club for about 8 years, built around a love for fishing but given the opportunity to become a competition team, tying the club to the growing fishing industry. Generally, the team holds around 20 active members with about 40 on our roster, which has grown considerably for being founded by a small group of friends not long ago.
Premier Angler: As president of the FSU Bass Fishing Team, what are some of the duties that fall to you? What has been the most rewarding aspect of fishing for a college team? What has been the most challenging? How has a holding a significant leadership role been different than simply holding membership on the team?
Barton: Though delegation of duties is important among our group of club officers, as President, organizing and directing the club in a certain direction falls under my resume.
Between being a representative for the club with the school and sponsors and keeping track of incoming members and upcoming events, there is a lot to stay on top of to ensure a smooth-running club. When applying for colleges, I ensured each application I sent was to a school with a bass fishing team. It has been a dream of mine to be involved with a collegiate team and take my first steps into the fishing industry this way, gaining an appreciation for the inner workings of the sport I had dreamed about starting a career in.
Being able to work with, help run, and gain so much knowledge of the industry and sport itself has to be the most rewarding aspect of my time here so far. The most challenging aspect would without a doubt be balancing the other aspects of university life on top of the club. As school comes first, learning to use the club as a reward for my time in school has been something I’ve had to focus on while letting the opportunity feed my passion.
I have worked my way up the officer positions in my time here and the sense of responsibility is another layer of challenge added to the handling of the club yet one of the more rewarding aspects as well. The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ applies as the rest of the team relies on the officers’ influence to keep the club running in the right direction.
Premier Angler: What are some of the events and locations FSU’s anglers have fished over the past few years? Have team members achieved any noteworthy finishes during these events?
Barton: Every spring, a few of our teams are able to fish some FLW or BASS tournaments with a handful of outside club tournaments thrown in for practice or personal pleasure throughout the year.
Most recently, one of our teams finished 3rd in the 2019 Lake Seminole tournament, earning the club $900 and qualifying them to fish the 2020 FLW Collegiate Championship.
With only around 2-5 boats available for the team the past few years, we have been limited in the amount of tournaments we can attend, leaving the majority of our tournament fishing spent locally.
Premier Angler: Florida State University has a rich history of success in NCAA-sanctioned collegiate sports. As a club without the history or stature of the university’s established sports franchises, does FSU fishing receive any funding or promotion from the university? What other avenues has the team taken to fund its annual operation costs?
Barton: Though we are growing more every year, as a base level club at the university, there is little funding we can ask for from the university. Although we don’t rely on dues, the majority of our supplies come out of pocket and are refunded through fundraiser events we host such as our annual tournament.
Alternatively, our sponsors are a huge help in terms of funding the club and providing incentive for membership, providing discounts and support with our efforts to grow the team and our impact on the university and our goal of spreading a passion for the outdoors.
Premier Angler: How has the FSU Bass Fishing Team recruited members in the past? What are you looking for in a prospective team member?
Barton: In being a base level club at the university, we accept any interested person from FSU or the local community college (TCC, or Tallahassee Community College), as we are just a group of people trying to find more people who enjoy fishing and the outdoors. All that is required is an interest for either and a willingness to show up to meetings, participate in events, and learn a thing or two from each other and our supporters about our passions.
Premier Angler: To follow up on that, what advice would you give to someone looking to fish at the collegiate level? What advice do you wish you had received before beginning your career with Florida State?
Barton: I would say the most beneficial thing about college fishing that anyone incoming should keep in mind is the experiences this opportunity provides and to treat it as a continuous learning experience.
In dealing with the university and sponsors, a sense of professionalism is instilled as a student taking steps into the real world of fishing and of business. Coming into college, it would have been useful to know a bit more how the professional world works as anyone interested in pursuing a career in the fishing industry with an idea of how business relations work would have an easier transition into the industry from an earlier stage.
The good thing is, this understanding is made available through working with the university or clubs and networking throughout the numerous opportunities the university provides.
Premier Angler: Are any members of the team planning to continue fishing at the professional level upon graduation?
Barton: Yes, a few of us are deeply passionate about the sport, having the majority of the reason for joining the team being to gain a gateway to and get early experience in the fishing industry. Making early connections and building relationships that would’ve been harder to form without the help of the team is a huge benefit and only a small portion of the vast opportunity offered through collegiate programs.
Premier Angler: When the team isn’t competing, what are some of your favorite spots to fish? Any particular species outside of bass that you enjoy fishing for?
Barton: The fishing around Tallahassee can be outstanding once you get the hang of it. Tallahassee fishing tends to be hard to figure out at first, but there are almost too many big bass, crappie, and catfish to name a few species between the three major lakes and numerous smaller bodies of water around the city.
Personally, I grew up fishing throughout Southern Florida, so I am partial to exploring species and different ways to fish. A large portion of the team is not from Tallahassee and thus bring many stories and techniques of fishing from across the country, making our collective interests in fishing fairly wide.
If it has fins, we will fish for it.
Trips to the gulf coast are not uncommon for some members of the team in pursuit of redfish and trout in the fall, while others vacation across the globe being sure to stop and make a fishing trip out of it.
Premier Angler: For people looking to find out more information about the FSU Bass Fishing Team, what is the best way to get in contact with you?
Barton: The team has both an Instagram and Facebook page on which we regularly post about events, meetings, and general updates. They both include contact information and other ways to contact us such as personal messages through either site. The handle for both accounts is @FSUBassFishingTeam
Premier Angler: Anything else we should know about you or the team?
Barton: The club has members from all across the nation who share a passion for the outdoors and a drive to share our knowledge and passion with the world in an effort to leave a positive impact and bring attention to the environment that supports our favorite activities.