Catch Anything?

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY STUDENTS TAKE ON THE NATIONAL BASS-FISHING TOURNAMENT SCENE

Their meeting was pure happenstance. Charlie Parrish '12 was a freshman returning to his room in Whitehouse from a quick fishing trip to Chalgrove Pond. Allen Luck '12, who was an avid hunter at the  time, happened to ask Charlie the age-old question: "Did you catch anything?"

LESS THAN ONE YEAR LATER, the two strangers would become close friends, create an official college bass-fishing club, and compete against well-funded university teams in the National Guard FLW College Fishing national championship. The day after they met, Charlie took Allen fishing-his first time ever-and the novice hooked a 15-pound catfish. "That was a great way to start fishing," says Charlie. "When we got back, we had to take it around to show everybody."

A competitive angler since he was 14 years old, Charlie has fished lakes and rivers across the Southeast. He says, "I have been dreaming about this since I was a kid. The last day of the regional tournament was  amazing. We had a camera guy in our boat and another boat with a camera guy following us. We had a blast." For Allen, the experience was completely new. "I had never even seen a fish weigh-in until the regional tournament. When Charlie and I decided to start the club at Hampden-Sydney, we did it  with the intention of fishing in tournaments. So, I fished every day this summer. I spend all of my free  time reading fishing magazines and practicing casting in the hall. The other guys must think I'm  crazy."

"All of that practice pays off," adds Charlie. "You can find the fish, but if you can't cast properly and give a natural presentation, you won't catch the fish. I like fishing with Allen because he hasn't been fishing  for very long and he's not set in his ways. He's willing to try new things and see what works."

With their third-place finish in the regional tournament, Parrish and Luck earned a spot at the national tournament this April in Knoxville. They will be fishing for $50,000 and a new bass boat. At the national tournament, they will likely be the underdogs, but they know in their hearts and minds that they have been underrated from the start. As Charlie says, "I want to go in with the attitude that we  can beat these guys."

What excites both young men-beyond fishing-is growing the Angling Club on campus so other students can participate in tournaments. Parrish and Luck are using the money they won at the regional tournament to help buy a fishing boat for the club. They are also exploring sponsorship opportunities so
the club can buy additional equipment. Though the fall semester was the club's first semester in action, already they have hosted a gathering with J.T. Palmore '08, a professional bass fisherman on the FLW  Stren Series. Parrish and Luck say meeting with Palmore was a wonderful learning experience and gave  them more confidence for the national tournament.

Until April, you can likely find Charlie and Allen on the shores of Chalgrove perfecting their casts and  developing strategy for when they represent Hampden-Sydney at the national tournament.