By Paul Stackhouse, Outdoors, The Decatur Daily
The Southern Collegiate Bass Championship at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur was something new and refreshing.
That’s not to say professional bass tournaments like those run by Bassmasters or FLW are boring, but the Southern Collegiate tournament offered a different scene, and the several hundred people in attendance seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
The tournament was started only three years ago, but it’s already built a nice base.
When the Bass Boss Ray Scott started tournament bass fishing in 1967, it grew and it grew fast. The bass fishing industry grows bigger each year with millions of people involved.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working the professional tournaments in which an angler could win $100,000 or even $500,000. I plan on continuing to follow the two major circuits closely. I enjoy writing about them just about as much as I enjoy fishing in a local tournament every now and then.
But now, colleges and even high schools are getting into the bass tournament scene. Both are in the beginning stages, but the possibilities are endless.
There were 117 anglers representing 23 colleges at the tournament. I spoke with many of the college students and found each one to be supportive of their team. Each one showed excitement by just being a part of this new adventure. They were just glad to be there, and each angler was extremely polite.
Something else I noticed at the tournament was no harsh words were spoken by anybody that I could hear. There was some smack talk between Alabama and Auburn, but it was all in fun and not harsh at all.
These students essentially are paying their own way to fish in the college bass tournaments. They have to supply their own boats and pay for motel rooms and travel expenses. They pay to play and are happy to be there.
Each one of the anglers I spoke with felt the college bass tournaments now will grow into something big in the near future. And I agree that things are on their way.
“I see big things happening in due time. In 3-4 years there will probably be a qualifying process and from there this sport will take off,” said Auburn academic advisor Jann Swaim, the tournament director.