Pro-staff Contributor: Michaela Anderson
There are many ways to get started fishing college tournaments. The best way is to start before you enter college by competing in small and local tournaments. Your first tournaments should focus on lakes that you are already comfortable fishing and know well. This will allow you to remain confident while using your knowledge of different spots on the lake to adapt your strategy during the tournament—because the fish always seem to change their patterns on tournament days. Local clubs and youth programs are also a great way to start.
Youth & High School Fishing
For kids, youth programs offer an amazing learning experience. Now some states even have high school fishing as a varsity sport! There are a few different organizations that have state tournaments that provide kids with the opportunity to fish in regional and national tournaments in other states. The best way to find these organizations is to look for information on your DNR page, or the FLW and BASS pages, or of course you could just Google it! One other option you have is to email your local TBF contact to find out where the nearest youth club opportunities are located.
Youth tournaments provide a lot of opportunities such as college scholarships and experience traveling to fish in other states. During youth tournaments you do not need to provide your own boat—you just need to show up with a life jacket, rod and reel. The boaters become amazing mentors and help teach kids during the day out on the water. You are able to make many new friends and many connections for the future. Unfortunately, at 18 you become too old to fish the youth tournaments and you must move to adult and college tournaments.
Stepping up to College Tournament Angling
College tournaments provide a great opportunity to travel to many different lakes across the country and learn a lot about other types of fisheries. Many schools have clubs, which allow you to fish in the FLW, BASS, and Boat USA college tournaments. There are also a few schools that have bass fishing teams and some offer scholarships for fishing! Each tournament trail is run a little differently but the basic format is that you fish in the qualifying events in hopes of making it to the National Championship. These tournaments take your angling to a whole new level and test your skills on lakes across the country. It is a great way to make new friends and to establish a strong network.
Becoming a Professional
Once you graduate you have a few choices. In Minnesota, and most states I have traveled to, they have many local tournaments— you could fish a tournament every weekend if you wanted to. If you want to take a step up to another level, check out Rich Lindgren’s blog about getting started in the BASS and FLW leagues. These tournaments will test your skills against some of the best anglers in the country—so it will give you a good idea of your competitive skill level.
One key reminder I would give you is that the best way to learn is to be out on the water. The more you get out fishing the more you will learn. Force yourself to learn new techniques and practice even the basic skills like casting. If you work hard at building your skill level, and take advantage of the resources and links I mentioned earlier—you can have a fun and rewarding experience as a college tournament angler like I have. It’s definitely worth the effort!
Michaela Anderson is a college angler fishing the FLW, B.A.S.S. College Circuits and select FLW Walmart Tour events representing krugerfarms.com, Trigger X and the University of St. Thomas. You can follow her on Twitter (@MichaelaFishing) and like her on Facebook (facebook.com/MichaelaAndersonFishing.