By David Ford
Over the past few years, Youngstown State University’s Bass Fishing Club has achieved a great deal of success.
The members said they view themselves more as a team. The team has not only qualified for nationals, but has made some noise while doing so.
Jonathan Creed, YSU student and team member, said choosing his best experience was tough.
“Being surrounded by such an awesome group of people who share the same interests as me makes for a lot of opportunities to create great memories,” Creed said. “If I had to pick, the number one experience for me would be qualifying for the national championship last year at Chautauqua Lake in New York. Standing on stage, holding up my trophy is a memory I will never forget.”
He said over the past several years, the team has continued to improve upon its past performances.
“Our club continues to expand every year as we gain more recognition,” Creed said. “As a result, we draw in more anglers and are able to build more successful teams to represent YSU.”
Despite continued success, the competitions in which YSU’s team participates can get fierce.
“College level competitions are very intense. Our team is considered a club sport. For many of the schools we compete against, this is not the case,” Creed said. “Although our student government helps us out immensely with funding, we are often fishing against teams who compete out of boats purchased by their schools.”
Jared Latone, team president, said he joined three years ago to expand knowledge of the sport and be with people who share an interest in fishing.
“The best part of the club is being able to travel and meet new people,” he said. “I’ve created many good friendships through it thus far, and we’ve performed exceptionally well in the last few years, qualifying for nationals and also placing top 30 in many events.”
In preparation for competition, Latone said the team practices one week ahead and, depending on the size of the venue or tournament, adjusts to these conditions.
Along with the practice schedule comes the countless hours of mental and physical strain, according to Creed.
“The most challenging aspect of bass fishing is the long hours,” Creed said. “That means before every tournament we are on the water as the sun is coming up and don’t leave the lake until dark. Being able to overcome the mental and physical strain and focus on making every cast and every bite a success is certainly the most challenging aspect.”
Creed compared bass fishing to contact sports, since hours of practice and repetition to nail the perfect shot are comparable to that of making the perfect cast to wear a fish down and to catch it.
For the fisherman, the countless hours are more than worth it.
Last year, Mike Soots, YSU team member, said he qualified for the national tournament with teammate Jonathan Creed.
Soots described the conditions for the tournament, and said all the work and preparation paid off.
“Jon and I were a little worried about our spot being taken because we only had two spots on the entire lake we caught fish on,” Soots said. “Once we got our spot, nobody was around … Walking up on that stage and finding out we were just shy of 15 pounds took a lot of stress off our shoulders. We definitely worked hard all week for those five fish on tournament day.”
Stan Miketa, YSU student and team member, said he first started fishing as a kid alongside his father, uncle and grandfather. The time on the water instilled an interest in bass fishing, which he has carried to college with him.
When Miketa was 17, he won $500 in a tournament with his father. He said it was the first time he made money fishing and attributes that to what started his addiction to the sport.
“When I was a senior in high school, in 2013, I was able to get in contact with the two guys that started the club that year and my journey started,” Miketa said. “For the first couple of sessions, there was only about four of us. When word got out and everyone learned more about how club sports worked, we’ve grown immensely each year.”
After college, Miketa said he hopes to turn professional.
“Fishing professionally would be a dream come true,” Miketa said. “It’s not easy when you factor in the competition and the financial obligations … With that being said, you never know what the future may hold and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Along with Miketa, Creed said he has similar goals.
“Personally, I would love to make a career out of bass fishing,” Creed. “The college circuit is a great doorway to the professional level … The competition is extremely tough when the professionals only consist of a few hundred of the best anglers in the world … As I continue to grow in the sport and hone my own skills, I hope to one day be on that level.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the Bass Fishing Club can contact Jared Latone at 330-397-5695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.