Georgia Southern University’s club fishing team, Southern Bass Anglers, has been making waves a b round the college fishing circuit with two GSU seniors leading the charge.
Tanner Parker and Trent Palmer represented GSU in the 2013 Bassmaster Carhartt College National Championship, which took place on Aug. 1-3 a t Lake Chatuge in Young Harris.t They placed eighth out of 64 college teams.
“It was awesome,” Parker said. “They bring in professionals that can mentor you on the steps of what pro fishing really is and how sponsorships really work. The experience of it all was really fun.”
The Bass Anglers have been in existence since 2009 and two of its longest tenured-members, Parker and Palmer, have had decorated careers as collegiate fishermen.
Parker, a senior construction management major from Dalton, was exposed to the water from an early age.
“I started fishing with my dad when I was younger and he’s the one who introduced me to the sport. He’s been one of my biggest supporters,” Parker said. “My mom helped me get my first boat when I was 18 and that is where it really took off. I started fishing in tournaments as a boater and learned to make decisions and call my own shots.”
Palmer, a senior business management major from Atlanta, has a similar back-story about how he fell in love with fishing.
“IIII’ve been fishing my whole life. My dad and grandfather got me into fishing,” Palmer said. “I fished a few small tournaments in high school and found out about the team when I was down here for SOAR. My first year, as a freshman, I fished as a co-angler because I didn’t have a boat and at the end of my sophomore year I was able to buy my own boat. Being a boater, you get to learn things on your own and make your own decisions.”
There are many perks when traveling to different locations and competing in national tournaments against other schools.
“We’ve made a lot of good friends this year and past years with other schools,” Palmer said. “They actually had us stay in the Young Harris College dorms during the tournament. We all got to hang out and meet each other. It just added to the cool experience.”
As far as professional fishing aspirations after college, the two have somewhat differing views. However, not lost on either is the love of fishing.
“I plan to fish tournaments after college, but not professionally. I want to work in the fishing industry because obviously you want to work in something you’re passionate about,” Palmer said.
“I graduate in December. Tournaments start back in January. It’s like perfect timing being right out of college,” Parker said. “It’s make-or-break, but it’s just scary. Sponsorships are so hard to get. I think it comes down to who has the will to do it and who is willing to sacrifice to do it. I have so much support from family and friends and if I can get connected with the right sponsors I’m going to make a run for it.”
Many schools do not offer school-sponsored fishing programs. Most collegiate fishing teams are at the club level. A couple of exceptions include Bethel University and Dallas Baptist University.
Parker said, “Whether Georgia Southern and other schools do (decide to offer school-sponsored fishing programs) is up to the school, but the problem is fishing is really hard to follow. BASS does a good job with online weigh-ins and standings, but it’s a tough draw as a spectator sport. Plus, they really can’t generate a revenue selling tickets or anything like that.”