Student Fishing Team Earns National Ranking | SUNY Plattsburgh
The college’s fishing team proved its prowess this past July, when student anglers Brendan Bolis and John McDougall took the $5,000 top prize in the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference qualifier on Lake Champlain.
Now, the team is gearing up for the national college tournament in Arkansas in April.
Making a Mark Nationally
The team’s string of successes has resulted in member Nikita “Nikki” Eddy becoming the first woman named to the Bass Federation’s New York state team and in Plattsburgh’s team having won more than $28,000 in prizes since its 2008 founding, with most of its earnings going to help defray team expenses.
InsideCollegeFishing.com ranks the Plattsburgh team No. 36 in the nation.
According to senior Ricky Lee, this ranking is no small feat because in fishing there are no divisions separating large schools from the small. Furthermore, southern teams — including No. 1 ranked Virginia Tech — tend to dominate the field because of their longer fishing season.
Lake Champlain Attractive to Anglers
Members of Plattsburgh’s team say that, although the season is short here, Lake Champlain has a reputation as a bountiful lake, with opportunities to score big.
“The pros like coming here because they know that no matter what they’re going to catch a ton of fish,” Lee said.
One of those pros is the team’s volunteer coach, Bobby Williams, who is based in the Thousand Islands region. Recently retired from a career in the Air Force, Williams sees his role as providing learning opportunities along with the tournament experience.
“The real prize is the education. All the other stuff, that’s just gravy,” he said.
How Tournaments Work
Tournaments have teams of two going out by boat at first light. After eight hours, they return with their five largest fish. The team with the highest combined yield wins, and all fish are released.
While the only fishing in the North Country right now is on the ice, the team has remained busy fundraising to help pay for trips to tournaments and for area charities. For instance, the team raised nearly $1,000 for Special Olympics this fall through a Polar Plunge.