Bass team reels in a successful year, looks to the future
By Ronald Russek —
The 2018-2019 Tarleton State University Bass Club finished in the Top 20 collegiate teams in the nation last season and is looking forward to another successful season.
“Our team as whole is looking very good,” said Dylan Jebousek, vice president of the bass club. “We just had two teams from Tarleton that have already qualified for the 2020 nation Championship for the FLW (Forrest L. Wood) Tournament, and that was a great start to the season.”
Founded in 2007, the Tarleton Bass Club has made a name for itself in the collegiate bass fishing world. The team has won multiple first place trophies and has made appearances on many top tier fishing channels such as college bass fishing, bass master, and flyfishing. While the bass club has achieved many successes, members said they do not feel they receive as much attention as other sports.
“I feel like bass fishing is overshadowed by the rest of the sports on campus,” Jebousek said. “A lot of people don’t look at bass fishing as a competitive sport, they just look at it as just going to the lake and having a good time — but really, it’s a very competitive sport.
“The students also don’t know what being a part of the team takes to stay there,” he continued. “To join the team, we have an application process. Every person that would like to join the fishing team has to submit a fishing resume. It has to entail that (you) actually compete in bass tournaments. We as officers review it and decide whether you’re good to go with us or not. Once you are a member you must pay your annual dues. We also require that every active member, fish a Fishing League Worldwide, Bass Anglers Sports Society or Association of Collegiate Anglers-sanctioned tournament at least one per year.”
The bass club is also subject to Tarleton’s organizational requirements, such as maintaining a certain grade point average and being enrolled in the school. However, once a member is active in the bass club, the member must pay dues and participate in fundraisers. Fishing with Fosters is the Tarleton’s Bass Club’s philanthropy project. Members take children from Foster’s Home fishing and show their support for the community.
“Other than telling our members to go spend time on the water, we don’t have any requirements week to week or day to day to do other than staying on top of grades,” said Jebousek. “That goes without saying your job day to day is class so you can go fish. We all have to stay on top of our grades because that’s why we are here, ultimately, is to go to school.”
The club uses fundraisers, various raffles and dues to raise money for the club. The money generated is put right back into the club for their various expenses. Without this money, the bass club would not be able to compete.
“We obviously do fundraisers, but we did just receive a nice sum of money from the Presidents Circle and we were very grateful for that and whatever funds we get from whatever or whomever that goes towards or travel expenses,” said Jebousek. “We have a points system within our club that the top three guys we try to at least pay for some of their expenses whether that’s via gas or via hotel.”
The bass club doesn’t work like the other sports teams at Tarleton. The members of the bass club must pay for all their travel-related expenses out of pocket. Along with having to pay for their travel, the bass team must supply all their own equipment and tack.
“It’s our personal vehicles, it’s our personal boats,” Jebousek said. “The university does not supply us with trucks and boats as some of the other private universities do. We go anywhere there is a tournament in New York, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Texoma, Rayburn, Oklahoma. It could be anywhere in the United States we could travel.”
According to Jebousek, traveling to the tournament and getting a place to stay is half of the battle for the bass club. The team must go early to get ready for the tournament and find the patterns of the lake.
“We always get practice days before a tournament, we get to miss school. But thankfully some of our professors do work with us,” said Jebousek. “So, we miss school during the week and practice however many days you can get there in advance. We get out on the lake and just get on the water and break it down to find what stage those fish are in and do your homework.”
Jebousek added these competitions are for “college teams only,” so not anyone can join. But any college team in the United States can enter these tournaments. Unlike any sport on campus, the bass team is up against the biggest and smallest colleges from across the country.
“All across the nation there is no division like D1, D2, D3 or even junior college,” said Jebousek. “There is no division so we fish against Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M, all of those guys.”
Even with so many large and small colleges competing in the same tournament, the prize is not as large as many would expect. However, as many large colleges provide equipment, travel and tack for their fishers, their cost to compete is lower. This lower cost on large schools’ fishers increases their profit margin if they win.
“An average first place prize I would say is about $3,000,” said Jebousek. “That’s not an exact figure, but I think that is pretty close to a good average. That is not including the national championships, so that’s just all regular season tournaments.”
According to Jebousek, students can support the bass club by spreading the word about fundraisers around campus and sharing posts on social media.
“I would say coming out to one of our tournaments but you know we travel that would be really difficult,” Jebousek added. “We’ve never had a tournament right here in our backyard. But just telling your friends and family about our bass club and letting them know that there is one here and it’s vibrant.”