A late start on the Arkansas River hurt the Sun Devil fishing club this month during the team's first venture onto the national stage.
The Arizona State University club, in its first year on campus, finished 28th among 36 teams Oct. 18-20 at the Under Armour College Bass National Championship in Little Rock. The event was rebroadcast Friday morning to a national audience on ESPN2.
Virginia Tech won the event, followed by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and then the University of Iowa.
“Basically anything that could happen wrong, happened to us,” ASU Bass Fishing Club president Mitch Kistner said.
Kistner and Davis Hart were the two members of the team who attended the event. They said they faced problems of all kinds, including airport issues and boat insurance delays.
Kistner said the team did not get in the water early enough to get a feel for the area because of boat problems. Practice time provides the fishers with a chance to “try and find a pattern,” Kistner said.
He also said the lake conditions in Arizona give the ASU team a disadvantage when they travel east.
“A lot of the lakes back east are natural lakes," Kistner said. "Whereas here they are man-made.”
He said fishing teams from the West have had a hard time getting national recognition.
“On the east coast, it’s a big sport and there are a lot more connections,” Kistner said. “But they are finally recognizing the west coast.”
Kistner said he has been fishing for 18 years. He started competitive fishing about a year ago and he decided ASU needed a club. The group ended up with 11 members in its inaugural season and expects to have a few more join in the next week.
The club practices year round and competes in club tournaments every month. The team fishes mostly at Roosevelt Lake, Lake Pleasant and Bartlett Lake.
All sorts of variables go into a successful day of fishing, Kistner said.
Everything from the visibility of the water to the season to moon patterns comes into play.
Tournament scoring is based on the most weight caught by a two-person team. Five of the heaviest fish are used to determine the score in a tournament.
Kistner said that winning sometimes could come within ounces of a fish. Once the fish are weighed, they are thrown back and no live bait is used.
All the money the club raises comes from private sponsorship because ASU does not fund its club athletics.