For the City Times
When 85 collegiate bass fishing teams from across the country converge on Lake DuBay July 9-11 for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, much of the excitement will spill onto the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus.
The public is welcome to observe daily weigh-ins at 3 p.m. at the Specht Forum/Sundial on campus. Thursday and Friday will be the busiest, as the full field of competitors weighs in. Up to 3,000 observers are expected. On Saturday, the top five teams compete for the national championship.
The competition is based on the combined weight of the best five fish caught by a two-person team during two days, said Connor Graham, president of the Big Dawgs Fishing Club at UW-Stevens Point. An average bass weighs one to three pounds, with some topping four or five pounds.
The Big Dawgs Fishing Club has been lining up volunteers for weigh-ins, transportation of ESPNU network and Bassmaster photographers, lining up boat owners to follow them on Lake DuBay and assisting with the vendor displays, Graham said.
“These are the best young anglers in world,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for our club despite the fact that we’re not fishing it.”
Also in the Sundial from 11 AM to 4:30 PM daily, vendors will display fishing lures, bait, tackle and motors. Among sponsors participating are Carhartt, Toyota, Yamaha, Skeeter and Mercury Marine. Local food vendors and educational information will also be available.
Fifty teams will stay in residence halls on campus, said Holly Bleser, summer conference coordinator at UW-Stevens Point. Teams begin arriving Sunday, July 5. All teams will attend a welcome banquet on campus.
This is the first time Wisconsin will host the Bassmaster college championship. Organizers are excited to come to the Midwest, said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They were floored by the warm hospitality here.”
Graham hopes the Bassmaster championship draws interest in one of the largest fishing clubs in the nation.
“Our name is going to be on the tournament. We’ll be able to showcase our club,” he said. He estimated that 20-30 club members are volunteering, as are a similar number from the community and sport fishing clubs around the state.
The fishing club was one of his deciding factors in choosing to attend UW-Stevens Point, Graham said. Besides academics – he’s majoring in biology – the Minneapolis native was drawn to the outdoor interest, including hunting and fishing, of Stevens Point.
Successful teams do research on and off the water, Graham said. “The Wisconsin is a tough river to fish. It takes time, effort, practice and the right mind set.”
The field of qualifiers is the largest in the history of the program, according to Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. College tournament manager. The anglers represent 60 colleges and universities. “It’s definitely going to be a challenging event, but the world’s best collegiate anglers need to be challenged for a championship,” he said.
Two Wisconsin teams, from UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater, will compete.
Teams will take off at 6 AM from the Tiki Beach Bar and Grill, 1126 County Road DB, Mosinee. Bassmaster.com will cover the event with live reports from the lake, live-streamed weigh-ins, photos and stories. For more information on the event, visit www.StevensPointArea.com/SportsShow.