UT’s fastest growing sport doesn’t compete at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium or on the court at the Frank Erwin Center. In fact, this sport doesn’t even take place on the 40 Acres. It happens on Lake Austin — with the help of a rod and reel.
The Texas bass fishing team has more than doubled in size since its founding in 2008. After starting with just seven active members and a few sponsors, the team now has 15 fishermen and eight sponsors.
“The Texas bass team was pretty small when I joined,” said Cody Levy, public relations senior and team president. “I became president of the team with a goal of fishing more tournaments, gaining more members and securing more sponsorships to help with expenses. This year, we have started right where we left off and have been growing and securing bigger and better sponsorships.”
Wade Middleton, director of collegiate operations for the Association of Collegiate Anglers, said collegiate fishing, even outside of Texas, is growing at an unprecedented rate.
“There are now over 250 schools nationwide that actively compete yearly,” Middleton said. “College fishing has grown about 400 percent since the ACA had its first event nine years ago.”
The Texas team hosted its first ever competition, the University of Texas Collegiate Invitational, on Lake Austin last Sunday.
“This is an Association of Collegiate Anglers event for all colleges,” Levy said. “I think everyone is going to talk about for it for years because it is the first college fishing tournament that guarantees all anglers will be rewarded with at least some [equipment] after the competition.”
In a collegiate bass fishing tournament, each school sends at least one team of one or two anglers who fish from the same boat for eight hours. If an angler wants to fish alone, the tournament director may assign a non-fishing observer to accompany the angler. Teams are scored based on the combined weight of their five heaviest bass of at least 15 inches in length.
“Largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass are counted,” Levy said. “Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the official length are not counted.”
Of the 10 schools that competed in Sunday’s tournament, the Longhorns’ top pairing of Carter Lyon and Carlos De La Fuente finished eighth overall, with a combined weight of 17.52 pounds. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s top duo won the event with a combined weight of 26.79 pounds.
The result may not have been what Texas was looking for, but the team’s passion and desire to succeed remains as high as ever.
“When I went through a breakup, that feeling didn’t even come close to the pain I was feeling when I lost a bass while fishing,” Levy said. “No matter what I go through, I will always be a fisherman and never give up.”