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Over the past decade, college fishing has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. Each year, more schools join the fray, competing in regional and national tournaments across the country. These circuits give young anglers the opportunity to fish major events and gain valuable experience while also continuing their educations.
For the casual angler, however, the world of competitive collegiate fishing is usually a mystery.
Premier Angler’s College Fishing Talk is a multi-school series intended to highlight individual anglers, their school teams, and college fishing in general.
We will discuss the rewards, benefits, challenges, and logistics of running a college fishing operation, often without the financial backing of the educational institutions.
While the relatively young bass fishing team at Marshall may not be on the national radar yet, Sansom is confident that the grassroots efforts being taken by the team — like hosting the Bass Trail Cup in 2019 — will help raise both funding and awareness for the program.
Talking College Fishing with Chase Sansom, Marshall University
Premier Angler: Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Marshall University’s fishing team and how many members the team has today?
Sansom: Marshall’s Bass Fishing Team was established in 2015. Currently, we have around 16 members.
Our members include: Myself (Chase Sansom), Tyler Drown, Evan Haley, Chase Arkell, Hunter Christensen, Meghan Tate, Cameron Hamilton, Nosakhere Griggs, Nick Ball and Cody Fuller, Cody Brumfield, Blake Cain, Jacob Lingenfelter, Willie Kimler, Austin McCloud and Jacob Cumm.
Premier Angler: College fishing is still a relatively new phenomenon that is catching on with more schools being formed every year. Since fishing is not formally recognized as an NCAA-sanctioned sport, how does the team recruit members?
Sansom: We actually do not recruit members, but that is something we would like to do later on if the university would offer funding.
Premier Angler: Are there requirements to joining, or is the team open to anyone enrolled as a student?
Sansom: No requirements. We welcome anyone who would like to join.
Premier Angler: So, in the absence of university funding, and being a fairly young team, how do you cover operational costs? How much out-of-pocket expense would you say the average angler incurs each year?
Sansom: We fund ourselves through our Bass Trail, t-shirt and merchandise sales, sponsorship funds, and raffles. Out of pocket, I would say I have spent between $1,000-2,000 easily just fishing a few college tournaments this year.
Our bass team is still growing and we are only in our infancy. We are not given any funds by the university, so every dime in our account is raised by us!
Premier Angler: What advice would you give to someone in high school who is considering fishing at the collegiate level?
Sansom: The best advice I would give them is to just fish. If you want scholarships to big name fishing schools, you have to be on your game. Sitting in the house isn’t going to accomplish that.
The more time you put on the water, the better you are going to become. If you are like me, I saw an opportunity with the Marshall bass team to help build the team from ground up. That is something I’ve really enjoyed.
Premier Angler: What college fishing tournaments has Marshall participated in? Are there any noteworthy achievements?
Sansom: A handful of us fished a couple FLW college tournaments this year, along with the WV BASS College State Championship and a BASS College National Championship.
As far as notable finishes, we do not have a ton as this year was our first season back into fishing competitively. Although we did have a couple top 30 finishes.
Tyler Drown and I had a 2nd Place finish at the WV BASS College State Championship. We also had a 54th place finish at the BASS College National Championship against 116 of the best college anglers across the country.
We didn’t really have the funds to travel as a team this year, but we do expect that to change in 2020.
Premier Angler: Looking at 2020, are there any tournaments the team would like to participate in (or will be participating in) in this year?
Sansom: Yes. This year, Tyler Drown and I, along with Evan Haley and Chase Arkell, will be fishing the Carhartt BASS College Series Tour against the best college anglers in the world.
Along with that, some of the team members will fish the FLW College Series tournaments. We will also be fishing the WV BASS College State Championship again.
Premier Angler: Do any of your members have aspirations of fishing professionally after graduation?
Sansom: I think maybe one or two us may have the aspirations of fishing professionally. I know that I do. It’s a dream of mine, but if I can land a job in the industry, that would also be a big achievement for myself.
Premier Angler: When you aren’t on the tournament scene, what are some of your favorite places to fish?
Sansom: My personal favorite has to be Lake Cumberland, but I really do love Lake Chickamauga.
Premier Angler: How can people interested in the fishing team at Marshall find more information?