Members of the Dixie State University Bass Fishing Club are so passionate about fishing, they have giant bass pillows.
The DSU Bass Fishing Club members fish for fun weekly and are preparing for a national fishing competition this week: the Western Conference Championship at Clear Lake in California. Above all, the club’s members share an equal passion for angling.
Club president Mathew Baker, a senior biology major from Ogden, and club vice president Nordel Erickson, a senior communication major from St. George, met fall semester of 2012 in a geography class and founded the club on a mutual love for bass fishing.
“I was sitting in front of Nordel,” Baker said. “I heard him behind me talking about fishing the local circuits, catching fish, going to Lake Powell for these local tournaments. So, I turned around and said, ‘Hey bro, check out these pictures.’ We sat there and swapped pictures back and forth … It was just chance that we had this class together.”
After meeting Erickson, Baker was inspired by a competition he saw on ESPN to form the club.
“I have [to competitive fish], and I just made this connection with [Erickson], who fishes, in my class,” Baker said. “We [formed the club] so fast from fall semester that we were fishing competitively by spring 2013.”
The members of the club want to add more members, especially one more person to compete on a team with Todd Walker, a sophomore biology major from Star Valley, Wyoming, so the club will have another competitive team for next year.
“Come to these local tournaments, show us your passion, show us your desire, show you can actually compete and [have] the skill set necessary to travel to Arizona and California and compete on a bigger level,” Baker said.
Baker said there is also an interest in the club from high school students.
“We have … 16-year-old, 17-year-old, 18-year-old kids [who] fish with us on these tournaments,” Baker said. “They say I would love to go to Dixie just to be a part of the bass fishing club. There is a younger generation excited about that opportunity. That would be great legacy for us to give to the school as we leave.”
Erickson said the club meets about once a week.
“It’s meditative,” Walker said. “My dad passed away a couple of years ago. That was our thing, fishing. So, it is one of the places I can still feel closest to my dad.”
The Western Conference Championship tournament that the club is participating in is two days long, said Erickson. The club will be in Clear Lake, California, on Oct. 9 and have two days to pre-fish.
Baker explained the tournament is set up to compete on a national scale, and that it is broken down into conferences set up by the Fishing League Worldwide.
The team keeps the five biggest fish that are caught. The winners of the tournament are determined by the total weight of the five fish, said Erickson.
If the team places in the top 10 in this championship, it will compete in the national championship in the spring, Erickson said.
“To go to these competitions, it is a skillset that is beyond just wanting to go out catch a few fish …” said Baker. “There is a huge divide in skill set between amateur and being able to compete on this level.”
Funding is a concern, and the club needs support from the school, Baker said. Travel and gear costs exponentially rise with new team members.
The club has covered costs from fundraisers, donations and a fourth-place award of $500 in a tournament, Baker said.
“It is the battle to make us more legitimate as a competition sport [club] rather than a … fun-time club,” Baker said.
For more information about the club or to join, like the DSU Bass Fishing Club on Facebook.