COOKEVILLE –Lakes, rivers and creeks surround Tennessee Tech University’s home in the Upper Cumberland and the fishing in those waters is good. It’s a draw that Josh Bean, president of the Tennessee Tech Bass Fishing Team, sees bring students not only to the university but also to the student organization.
“Fishing is a part of who we are, so of course we are always looking for somebody to go fishing with,” Bean said. “The team is always a great place to start. It’s more than just fishing. It is a hobby that we all love. It’s a good way to build friendships.”
The fishing is fun, but it is also competitive. Recently, Bean, a senior wildlife and fisheries major, and his fishing partner and fellow Tech student Caden Watson, a senior mechanical engineering major, were among more than 130 pairs of college anglers to compete in the Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Tenkiller in Tahlequah, Okla. Along with them team members Travis Howard and Sam Carris also qualified and competed in the national championship tournament.
“Even though our fishing team has been ranked in the top 20 for years, usually in the top 10 in the nation, many people on campus don’t even know we are here,” Watson said.
To fish in the national championship, teams had to perform well in previous qualifying tournaments, bringing them up against teams from the east to west coast and everywhere between.
“College fishing is all about having a partner, teams of two per boat,” Bean said. “Technically we are a team together, and we want to see our team do well, but we are still competing against each other.”
On Lake Tenkiller, the fishing was tough, but Howard and Carris came out among the top 70 teams in the competition, with Watson and Bean just missing a spot among the top 100.
But Watson and Bean agree that there is more to competing in tournaments than just the fishing.
“You meet a lot of people and make new friends,” Bean said. “With an event like this you meet a lot of professional anglers and get advice from them. They take their time and take time out of their day just to come talk to us.”
These college anglers say they have found a fishing home between the Caney Fork River, Center Hill Lake, the Cumberland River, Cordell Hull Lake, the Obey River, and Dale Hollow Lake, along creeks and within a short distance of National Parks and Forests on and around the Cumberland Plateau at Tennessee Tech.