BATON ROUGE – As the sun rises over Falcon Lake near Zapata, Texas, everything is still. The sun’s colors warm the surrounding trees, the birds come to life and the bass wake in their proper shelters in depths beneath the water. But on that exact morning in January, it didn’t take long before the waters gave way to 40 boats for the National Guard FLW College Fishing Tournament.
Three of those boats belonged to Louisiana students and fishermen—taking second, third and fourth places in the tournament. This may not come as a surprise, as many know Louisiana to be a sportsman’s paradise with its lush riverbanks, hiking trails, rare wildlife and fruitful hunting seasons. For the sportsmen, who are also students, the calls have been answered. Yes LSU, there is a fishing team.
Animal sciences senior Blake Carrier and wild life ecology sophomore Logan Mount represented LSU in their purple and gold jerseys, taking second place in the tournament after weighing in six bass—28 pounds, 13 ounces—making it their personal and team bests. The LSU-Shreveport team took third place and the Louisiana-Lafayette team placed fourth.
While the tournament paid the LSU team $5,000, half for the club fund and half for the university, the real prize is qualifying for the National Guard FLW College Fishing Regional Championships.
This season marks the second year the LSU Fishing team has been an official group. Carrier participated last year and said it started out with nearly 10 members.
“It was a common interest between a group of guys,” Carrier said.
This year, the group has grown to nearly 25 members, with a need for organization and sponsorship. Mount said the group attends meetings and is working on a point system so each person gets a chance to compete. They are also putting together a Web site.
“We give out points for attending meetings,” Mount said. “We have skills challenges and also award points for participating in tournaments.”
Although there are 15 to 20 fishing tournaments every season, the National Guard FLW College Fishing circuit is the country’s largest for college bass clubs.
Carrier said the tournament at Falcon Lake allowed all Texas-based teams in first. After that, it’s first-come, first-serve. The LSU team uses tournament earnings to pay for entry fees, travel to and from the competitions and of course, jerseys.
Each competition requires its own set of research for the teams participating. The fishing tactics used depends on the weather, time of year, what type of fish is being caught, their habitat, mating habits and living conditions.
“You really have to do your homework,” Carrier said. “We scout the lake, find out the weather predictions, how deep the water is and the contour of the area.”
Mount and Carrier agreed the best part about tournaments is meeting other fishermen and even a few women.
“We get to meet other college fishermen, which is the cool part,” Mount said. “Before the tournament, no one wants to share their methods, but afterward they might.”
Carrier and Mount recall memories of fishing from the time they were old enough to stand beside their fishing family members. Both students fish any chance they get, but said fishing for leisure and competition are two different activities.
“I love fishing,” Mount said. “Being outdoors is one of my passions. But I really love competing, and I’ve met a lot of great competitive fishermen.”
There are three other tournaments that qualify fishermen for the regional championship—Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Jasper, Texas; Cross Lake in Shreveport, La.; and Toledo Bend Lake in Many, La. Mount and Carrier are planning to send other LSU team members, anticipating more Tigers in the regional competition. The top five in the regional competition advance to the national championship.
Carrier said he is excited about how much the team has grown, but they can only accommodate so many students.
“There are only so many fishing tournaments,” Carrier said. “We want everyone to have a chance.”
The team accepts new members at the beginning of each fall. Anyone who is interested in joining the team is encouraged is to contact Carrier or Mount.
“I’m a big competitor,” Carrier said. “There’s nothing like being on the water, with no traffic, no noise; just you and the fish.”