The Shippensburg University bass fishing club is preparing for its 2021 fishing season after a one-year layoff from competition because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Alex Kapres, bass fishing club president, said although tournaments in 2020 still occurred, the team could not fish in them.
“Private schools could compete in them,” Kapres said. “Since our school is state-funded and all state-funded travel was canceled, we couldn’t fish them.”
Although the tournaments met social distancing guidelines, Kapres said the club team still could not fish in the tournaments.
“It’s fishing, you’re with one person on a boat. You’re not with a crowd of people,” Kapres said. “The only time there is ever a crowd at a tournament is during the weigh-ins, but they implemented rules saying there couldn’t be crowds.”
Despite being unable to fish in their tournaments, the club still made progress. Kapres said the club added 15 new members last year, and they now have 35 registered members. Although the club could not fish during the 2020 season, Kapres said that the club met regularly while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“I’d communicate with the team about new updates and what was going on through the school,” Kapres said. “We would also talk about new sponsorship deals, so we still met about twice a month.”
The bass club is sanctioned through the Northern Conference of the Major League Fishing Abu Garcia College Fishing series. Kapres said the university has given the team permission to begin competing in the series during the 2021 season. The team will compete in all three of the Northern Conference tournaments scheduled for this season:
• Smith Mountain Lake, April 30
• Potomac River, June 4
• Detroit River, Aug. 20
According to Major League Fishing’s rules, teams can begin fishing at 7 a.m. but must arrive back to the boat launch for weigh-ins by 3 p.m. Additionally, bass must be at least 12 inches to qualify for weigh-ins; and teams can keep up to five fish to weigh-in. The team with the most pounds weighed-in wins the tournament.
Kapres said performing well in a conference tournament could earn the club a spot in the national championship tournament.
“The Top 10 teams from each conference get a spot in the national championship,” Kapres said. “So, we’ll have three tournaments for the Northern Conference. If we land in the Top 10 in any of those tournaments, we can fish in the national championship at the end of the year.”
Although the ongoing pandemic prevented the club from competing in 2020, it continues to affect how SU conducts classes, which could benefit the club during the 2021 season.
“With having online classes this semester, hopefully we can go to the lakes and practice fishing longer than normal. The more time you can practice, the better you can figure it out,” Kapres said.