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Elon’s fishing club gains notoriety

With students competing in tournaments across the South, founders hope their successes elevate the university in collegiate bass fishing circles.

Elon University's Nathan James competed this winter at Lake Guntersville in Alabama.

By Jennie Proto ’13

A small group of Elon University students is attempting to make a name for their school in one of the fastest growing intercollegiate sports: bass fishing.

Started in 2012, the Elon University Fishing Club competes year round in tournaments at Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake in Chapel Hill, N.C., and in intercollegiate tournaments throughout the country in the Bassmaster Collegiate Fishing and the FLW College Fishing series.

“I love to compete and it’s a constant challenge,” said Elon junior and fishing club co-founder Billy Gilbert. “But it also allows me to relax!”

In the Bassmaster Collegiate Fishing Series, Elon’s team is part of the east region, which includes states from Maine to South Carolina. The Elon student group can send as many two-person teams as it wants but must provide its own boats.

In the FLW College Fishing Series, Elon is in southeast region, which includes states from North Carolina to Florida to Mississippi. Only one two-person team can compete from each school, yet tournaments in this series provide boats for all competing teams.

“Elon students from other states catch fish just as well as those who were raised here,” said Brandon Troxler, a member of the university’s grounds keeping department and staff advisor to the club. “It’s great that the students, no matter where they are from, can share their passion.”

Elon University sophomore Chris Vigliotta serves as treasurer of the Elon University Fishing Club.

Bass fishing has quickly established itself as a competitive college sport throughout the country. Several university teams participate in tournaments, including the University of Georgia, Auburn University, Ohio State University, North Carolina State University and the University of Alabama.

Elon’s club team meets once a month to discuss competitions and other business matters. The bass fishing competitors typically practice catch-and-release in small groups, mostly for practical reasons, at places such as Lake Verona, Lake Mary Nell, Lake Mackintosh and Graham-Mebane Lake.

The group counts 20 dedicated members, including Gilbert, who serves as president, and sophomore Chris Vigliotta, the club’s treasurer. Both started fishing at young ages, in large part because of interest and encouragement from their fathers.

“Fishing is a great excuse to travel to different places, especially exotic places, and it’s different than most sports,” Vigliotta said. “When I hook onto a fish, there’s a rush!”

Gilbert and Vigliotta hope to keep their student group growing. With all of their successes, both men anticipate Elon becoming more well-known in the bass fishing world.

“People should join the club because it is very laid back,” Vigliotta said, “but if you want to take it seriously, you can.”

Eric Townsend,
5/18/2013 8:00 AM