SIU anglers advance to national fishing tournament
From casting to weigh-in, two Southern Illinois University anglers recently landed hefty catches at the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) College Fishing Central Conference bass tournament in Kentucky, earning eligibility for the 2017 National Championship.
Kyle Wagner of Waterloo, located southwest of Belleville in Monroe County, and Mason Bishop of Goreville, southeast of Carbondale in Johnson County, scored fourth place at the tournament at Kentucky's Lake Barkley. Wagner, a civil and environmental engineering major, and Bishop, a biology student, are both in their junior year.
Each tournament generally attracts 80-120 teams. It is “really difficult to qualify and a huge honor” to get to the national tournament, Wagner said.
The pair caught five fish weighing 15 pounds, 2 ounces altogether, winning $500. Both students belong to the Saluki Bassers, SIU’s official fishing organization sporting approximately 18 members. The club is backed with donations and personal funding. The Wagner-Bishop team also has support from local sponsors, including Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, Vexan Fishing and Dupo Marine Center.
What the public may view as pure relaxation on the water comes with a strict set of guidelines determined by FLW. Its rules state that tournament waters become off-limits to all contestants 15 days before practice days. Entrants may practice only with their official teammate, and no one else except an FLW authority or approved media representative is allowed in the boat.