Money, college — and fishing!

Marino Dominguez, Staff Writer

If you read the headline of this column, you probably are already interested: I imagine you either want to go to college, like to make money, or like the outdoors.

So yes, it’s true; you can fish to go to college.

Top colleges not only in California, but throughout the entire United States, now have club teams competing nation-wide in college bass tournaments. The list of California campuses that have a fishing team include Cal Poly, CSU Monterey Bay, Chico State and Sacramento State.

And yes, you might be thinking, “Well, if you are trying to say fishing is a sport, why haven’t the colleges made it a college sport?”

The only reason fishing hasn’t been adopted by the NCAA is simple: fishing is a “club sport” on all college campuses, so all the money raised/won is kept by the team and dispersed accordingly to the club itself and individuals. On average, each tournament dishes out about $3,000, but some tournaments, like the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) Collegiate Championship, pays out a brand new boat worth about $26,000 and a chance to compete with the pros for $500,000.

Yes, that’s a lot of money.

The fact that the players are receiving the money is what is important. Fishing teams nationwide have fought off the NCAA, refusing to let the money-hungry world of collegiate sports divest the players of their money. If the NCAA names fishing a collegiate sport, all paid sponsorships, tournaments, events and prizes will be eliminated, and just like football, basketball and many other sports, it is the athlete that loses.

So in reality, keeping fishing a club sport is really just a genius business move to put the dollars in the hands of the athletes, not the colleges.

And even though fishing isn’t a NCAA sport, its number of participants is still growing exponentially. In 2009, when FLW began its college circuit, there were only 90 teams nationwide. Five years later, the circuit had over 610 teams. For Bassmaster (FLW’s main competitor), over 157 teams have been assembled.

The fishing community understands that they also need people who care about making the sport self sustainable.

Big names in the fishing community, such as Shimano Fishing Company, have begun giving scholarships to high schoolers who choose to major in biology, fisheries, wildlife or natural resource fields at the college level. Shimano alone gives multiple $3,000 scholarships to students who major in those fields.

Although some try to deny it, fishing is a sport that is growing quickly with the younger generation.

And if it can help pay for college, well, that’s the best 10 lb bass you can land.