Reeling in collegiate anglers

(Published October. 10, 2006, 8:38 a.m.)

By Mike Heine/The Week

With nearly 15,000 lakes and 33,000 miles of rivers and streams in Wisconsin, it's a wonder more state universities don't have what UW-Whitewater has-a fishing team.

Adam Eisele and Jason Hoffmann started the team in spring 2005, giving Whitewater the UW System's second fishing team. UW-Madison was first.

"Basically we give students the opportunity to participate in the outdoors with people around their same age who have the same interest," Eisele said. "It's also to have an opportunity to compete in something that's not ultra-competitive."

The UW-Whitewater Fishing Team has about 25 members, mostly young men and a handful of women.

Eisele's interest in starting a Whitewater team was sparked when he met a member of the UW-Madison team while working at a Gander Mountain sporting goods store in Madison.

He met Hoffmann at the Madison Fishing Expo at the UW-Madison team booth.

After learning they both attend UW-Whitewater, they teamed up to start the organization and spread the word around campus.

The fishing team is set up much like other campus organizations. Student fees are used for some funding, but most of the group's money comes through fund-raising.

Though still in its infancy, team has held a bass fishing tournament against the UW-Madison team and two club tourneys to raise money.

Saturday, Oct. 14, the team is hosting an open tournament on Rock Lake in Lake Mills, and 20 percent of the proceeds will go toward the team. The rest goes to prizes.

Team members are soliciting sponsorships from tackle and marine companies and even gas stations to help pay tournament costs.

"We need all the help we can get because we don't have much money and fishing is a pretty expensive sport, especially with travel expenses and entry fees," said Doug Rosenthal, a 20-year-old junior.

Local sponsorships also are being sought from area businesses, Rosenthal said.

So far, free gear is coming from St. Croix Rods, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Reaction Innovations bait company and Power Pro Line.

In August, Eisele and Rosenthal participated in the College Small Mouth Bass Championship on the Arkansas River in Pine Bluff, Ark. They finished ninth out of 25 teams, 6 pounds shy of making the cut for the final day of the bass tournament.

The two are among the more serious members on the team, but the club is open to anyone.

"We're not just limiting the students here to just bass fishing," Eisele said. "While there is a lot of tournament-type competition right now, we have guys who like to walleye fish and muskie fish. It's all across the board."

While college fishing clubs are just starting to catch on in the upper Midwest, they are common at southern schools, Eisele said. Most schools in the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 Conference have fishing teams.

"We're not fully on the college circuit," Eisele said. "It would be nice to eventually have enough money set aside that maybe we could work with the university and get a boat that could be sponsor-wrapped."

Eisele and Rosenthal hope to take the next step to make the team a force on the circuit. The two are heading to Texas in less than two weeks to fish in the National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship.

 

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