‘Hook, line, and sinker’: Fishing team continues making a name

The Arkansas Tech University fishing team members have been polishing up their skills and preparing for the upcoming 2018 collegiate fishing season.

With more than 30 members in its arsenal, the ATU fishing team has made a name for itself in the 2017 spring fishing season, going up against division 1 colleges; fishing in the Fishing League Worldwide collegiate series, sponsored by YETI; Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, a fishing membership organization with more than a half a million members, according to its website; and the Arkansas Collegiate Series fishing tournaments.

Partnering up for the Bassmaster Regional tournament in the spring, Bennett Pierce, a business management major from Fort Smith, and Thomas “T.J.” Tucker, from Ratcliff, who graduated in May with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife, qualified for the Bassmaster national championship fishing tournament by placing within the top 10 in a regional qualifying tournament.

Placing No. 4 in a Fishing League Worldwide regional qualifier out of ATU’s southern region, the duo of Jordan Ogle, from Morrilton, and Hampton Hasek, a double major in psychology and criminal justice from Maumelle, teamed up to qualify for the FLW national championship.

“We’ve been on the water fishing most weekends,” Hasek, the team’s president, said. Although “most of the big tournaments happen during the spring semesters,” the team members stay active with fishing, even when there may not be any tournaments going on, to keep their skills up to par for any challenge that may be thrown their way.

Fishing isn’t the only thing that the team has in mind. Dedicated to their community and the people within, the team is active in doing services for the community.

Teaming up with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, members of the team recently volunteered to help gather more than 500 pounds of trash and debris from around Lake Dardanelle. The team then held a club tournament with prizes provided by the AGFC, giving members “more incentive to make part of our community a cleaner, more enjoyable place,” Hasek said.

The team recently sent members to London elementary school, set up a booth, gave a presentation and had games for the students, showing that team members aren’t only focused on being on the water; they want to be involved in community development and want to educate and inspire the younger generation.