The Cal Poly Bass Fishing Club won “School of the Year” at the YETI Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Western Conference Nov. 7.

The title accounted for three fishing tournaments throughout 2019 and was awarded to the school with the highest combined point total over the tournaments. The tournaments took place at Lake Mead (Mar. 2), Clear Lake (May 18) and the California Delta (Sept. 28). 

Environmental engineering junior Hugh Cosculluela said that their team has to fish for several hours each tournament.

“For a single day of tournament fishing, you wake up real early, like 4 a.m. and then launch the boat,” Cosculluela said. “Then you fish for seven, eight hours and bring in your five biggest fish for the day.”

Once each team is finished fishing, the teams measure the total weight of their five biggest fish. The team with the highest weight total wins the tournament. Nineteen schools competed in the western conference and each school had multiple teams comprised of pairs of “anglers,” or fishermen who use the angling fishing technique.

The scoring system awards the first place team of each tournament with 300 points. Cal Poly earned 1,761 points over the course of the season, 300 points aheaded points more than the second place team. 

Video by Brady Caskey

Cosculluela is the co-president of the Bass Fishing Club and he said he has been an avid participant since his freshman year. Cosculluela began fishing in eighth grade and he said he seeks to use the tournaments’ experience as a stepping stone to becoming a professional competitive fisherman.

“There’s tons of guys that are really good at fishing, but you need to have a financial backing in order to pay for it because even the tournaments themselves cost money,” Cosculluela said.

Cosculluela added that the cost to enter a professional tournament can range up to $50,000 or more. He said that a professional also needs to factor in gas, food and lodging, which continue to add up. 

FLW Director of Public Relations Joseph Opager said the tournaments helps fishermen participate for a lower price.

“[The tournaments] exposes young anglers who haven’t had a chance to fish in bass tournaments at a low cost,” Opager said.

While the club receives financial support from ASI, Cosculluela said the cost of a college tournament is much less than a professional tournament.

Cal Poly’s next collegiate fishing tournament is in January, which will also mark the beginning of the 2020 competitive fishing season.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of a name. 

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