TIFTON — Students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College compete in intercollegiate sports across the Southeastern portion of the United States. But ABAC athletes also compete on the lakes and ponds of the U.S. in another sport ... bass fishing. Yes, ABAC has an official bass fishing team as one of more than 60 clubs and organizations on campus.
The ABAC bass fishing team consists of nearly 30 members who meet every second Wednesday of the month. For more than four years, the club has been competing in numerous tournaments and teaching new members how to fish.
“I joined the bass fishing team because I have always loved to fish but never got the opportunity to do it in a tournament,” Cydney Slapa, a sophomore from Deltona, Fla., said. “I went to my first meeting last year and have been ‘hooked’ ever since.
“Everybody on the team is super supportive and willing to help with any of my fishing needs. One thing that I always tell people about the club: You don’t need to own a boat and be an expert to join the team.”
Bass fishing team advisor Justin Exum said the ABAC team competes in at least one tournament a month in the Southeast under the umbrella of Boat U.S., Collegiate Bass Nation, and Cabela’s Collegiate FLW.
“Each boat in the tournaments holds an angler and a co-angler from the school they are representing,” Exum said. “Usually, there are 150 to 200 boats for every tournament. We just fished our first tournament of the year on the first weekend in September.”
Students prepare for tournaments by pre-fishing and traveling. On the day of the tournament, two anglers aim to catch five bass that are legal length.
In 2019-20, the team had a successful season, competing in the FLW Championship on the Potomac River and the championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes.
“Benjamin Chandler from ABAC fished for the 2018 and 2019 national championships,” Exum said. “He placed in the top 25 in 2018 by himself and then in 2019, Ben and T.J. Neely finished in the top 100 in the nation.”
Bass fishing team officers include President Nick Hughes from Locust Grove, Vice president Gavin Hiers from Quitman, Secretary Slapa, Treasurer Jarrett Brown from High Springs, Fla., and Matthew Hood from Cumming, who is ICC representative.
For more information on joining the ABAC bass fishing team, interested persons can contact Exum at firstname.lastname@example.org.