This game of patience may be seen as punishment for some, but it’s a regular occurrence and seen as sport for the Wisconsin Fishing Team.
The fishing team is a student-run organization that has been around since the early 1990s, and by combining both competitive and recreational aspects of the sport, the club provides an opportunity for fishermen of all skill levels to hit the water.
The organization focuses on two main activities each year.
First, there are the competitive bass fishing tournaments that take place five or six times a year, according to co-president Michael Dircz. These competitions are aimed at the more serious and talented fishermen, and the collegiate events pit not only schools against other schools, but teammates against their own teammates.
Each team has two people in one boat, and the number of boats varies from each team. The boats are then sent into the same wake for eight hours and look to bring back their five largest fish. The fish are weighed and those with the highest weights win the majority of the payout.
Even though the individual fishers win the prize money rather than the entire team, there is still a strong sense of support between teammates.
“It’s great because even though it’s just that one boat that gets the money, everyone will congratulate each other if they win,” public relations chair and four-year member Hunter Cochran said.
Most think of fishing as a leisure activity, and people may find the concept of competitive fishing difficult to grasp. But for a small group of people on the team, the competitive spirit comes naturally.
For Cochran, her competitive nature stems from fishing with her dad, and always wanting to catch a bigger fish or the most fish. For Dircz, it’s simply about wanting to be better than those you’re competing with — as is the case with all sports.
“You are always going to be comparing yourself to your own partner and the other fishers on the water,” Dircz said. “You always want to catch the most and the biggest fish.”
And while the competitive nature of fishing is important for a handful of people to the club, the fishing events aren’t the only opportunities the club provides to its members.
The organization also offers a variety of socials, opportunities for more recreational fishing and different guest speakers to learn more about fishing.
In fact, according to Adam Knowles, three-year veteran of the club, the competitive side of the team is secondary to its social side and emphasizes community.
Despite having more than 200 members signed up on their email list, the team is always looking for new participants of all skill levels to take part in the unique experience the organization provides. Anyone can join the club, regardless of their fishing experience.
“We really pride ourselves in being able to take people within the student body and being able to help them along,” Knowles said. “We want to show them different ways to make use of the fishing waters that we have here in Madison.”
The open and welcoming environment is what makes the club a more unique experience and makes it special, Knowles said.
“I think that’s the beauty of the club, because you can be as interested as you want,” he said. “I think all of those actually gain something from being a part of the club. And that goes back to having a sense of community.”