Nearly 30 pounds of fish have qualified four Tennessee Tech University students to compete in a regional bass fishing tournament this fall.
Two fishing teams, Ryan Harpe and Chris Thomas, both of Cookeville, and Seth Davis of Decatur and Ryan Maddux of Dayton, placed in the National Guard FLW College Fishing qualifying tournaments and soon they will test their skills, and their lures, in the southeast regional championship.
“There are several different tournament trails that we compete in each year,” said Davis, who is president of the approximately 20-member TTU student bass fishing team. “The National Guard FLW is one of the more prominent. It has both pro and collegiate fishing trails.”
Each of the club’s top four pairs of fishermen went to one tournament. Two finished in the top five, enough to move on to the regionals.
Harpe and Thomas spent five days before their June 11 tournament, getting to know the lake and finding out where the fish were.
“Fish are like we are; most humans are going to do the least amount of work to feed themselves,” Thomas, a sophomore agribusiness major, said. “Fish are just like people; they move to where the food is.”
He and Harpe have been fishing for most of their lives; both grew up in fishing boats and tell stories of times they got in trouble driving boats without licenses when they were pre-teens.
“I’ve been in the boat ever since I was 2 years old,” Harpe, also a sophomore agribusiness major, said. “When I was maybe 6 or 7, I was doing everything on the boat, including driving it on and off the trailer.”
Their next round of FLW fishing will take place Sept. 8-10 on Lake Harding, in Auburn, Ala. They will compete against the top teams from the other four Southeast Division tournaments.
For placing in their respective events, the TTU pairs each earned — in addition to the chance to compete in the regional championship — a $1,500 donation for the club and a $500 donation for the university.
If they win the regional tournament, they will get a $37,500 donation, including a bass fishing boat, for the team and a $12,500 donation to the university.