5-year-old record-holding OSU club headed to nationals in March.
Out of 33 students randomly surveyed on campus throughout Wednesday, not one knew the Oregon State University bass fishing club existed.
But the bass fishing club is doing big things.
Not only has the OSU bass fishing club won five of six tournaments, made it to nationals two years in a row, won countless Civil War fishing battles against University of Oregon, but the club has broken the bass weigh-in college record for a two-day tournament.
With a 54-pound, 12-ounce bass, the club still holds this record.
The club is five years old and it has been ranked sixth in the nation for several consecutive years.
Ryan Sparks, club president and senior studying fisheries and wildlife, said bass fishing isn’t that popular in Oregon and is often overlooked by salmon and steelhead.
“Places down in the south, like Alabama, they fill up football stadiums just for college (bass) tournaments,” Sparks said. “It’s insane to see how people view it down there as a sport compared to here.”
The OSU bass fishing club may not be recognized by a majority of students on campus but it has caught the attention of the sport fishing industry. Sparks said club members have fishing product sponsors, fish alongside professionals and have persuaded high school children to attend OSU to fish.
Members of the club have traveled as far as Georgia to compete in tournaments. In March, five members will embark on a fishing trip to South Carolina to compete in nationals.
“Last year we went to Arkansas, we went to Georgia and now we’re going to South Carolina this year,” Sparks said. “We fish in Utah, Arizona, California — just all over the place.”
Wrapping up Sunday, the club is showing off its skills at a five-day Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show in Portland.
The club had a booth at the event where they shared tips and tricks, hosted hourly cast-off competitions against the University of Oregon’s bass fishing club. Sparks demonstrated fishing techniques to audiences daily.
The show helped the club fundraise for upcoming tournaments.
Most of the funding comes out of the pockets of the club members who compete in the tournaments. Their first couple years fishing, Sparks said they won $10,000 each year and all the money went into club expenses.
Aside from nationals in March, the club will attend several other tournaments and host a Civil War tournament on the Columbia River in May.
“It’s a competitive thing and it is a lot more of a sport than people think,” Sparks said. “There are a lot of nerves and skill that go into it.”
Greek and clubs reporter