SJR State launches competitive bass fishing club
Matthew Sharp, 19, has had a passion for fishing since he was a little boy. Now, as a college student, he has recently joined the new Bass Fishing Club at St. Johns River State College (SJR State). Considering he's competitive by nature, Sharp appreciates this opportunity to compete in college-level bass fishing tournaments and championships.
“What I like most about the bass fishing process is that you can never stop thinking,” said Sharp. “Whether it is day to day or season to season, most of the time the fish are changing, so you must think of the most effective way to catch them," he said. Since the tournaments involve two-person teams, Sharp will have the benefit of strategizing with a partner when out on the water. Tournaments can last for up to six hours.
Unlike varsity sports, there’s no half-time and timeouts when you’re out on the water, said club advisor and SJR State engineering instructor Kenneth Pagano, who has worked with Putnam County’s youth bass fishing club for many years. With the popularity of bass fishing in Putnam County, Pagano hopes that a collegiate club will help draw some of those students to SJR State. "Palatka is often referred to, and proves itself to be, the “Bass Capital of the World,” so, it makes perfect sense that we are represented at college-level tournament bass fishing," Pagano said.
McKenzie Dobson, 20, wasn’t introduced to fishing until she relocated to Florida from North Carolina. “I saw that fishing here was pretty good, so I figured I’d give it a try,” she said. After hearing about the club in her College Success class, Dobson decided she wanted to also give that a try. She most enjoys the scenery that bass fishing offers and “waiting for that special tug on the line," she said. The sport has become a hobby for her, and she’d love to see the SJR State club take off and get more members.
Pagano said that the life cycle of bass fish, the ecology of the river the fish are in, time-management skills and logistics are just some of the many lessons that club members will learn about in a hands-on way. Current full-time SJR State students in good standing are eligible to join the club. There is no requirement to own a bass fishing boat; however, half of the members would need access to boats to participate in tournaments.
Sharp encourages his peers to join in on the competitive fishing fun. “Do not worry if you have never fished before; you can learn. Help us to get this club going,” he said. Dobson agreed. "Give it a try even if you have never fished before; you might just like it," she said.
SJR State’s Bass Fishing Club is seeking community sponsors to assist with tournament expenses. For more information, contact Kenneth Pagano at .
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