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Posts Tagged ‘Midwest College Shoot-Out’

Kevin Pechumer of UW Madison's Fishing Team poses with a nice walleye

The University of Wisconsin has a lot of teams. Football, basketball, soccer. Name an activity or sport, chances are the UW has it.

And yes, that includes fishing.

And why not? Nestled on an isthmus between two large lakes teeming with fish, UW-Madison is the perfect spot for students to enjoy Madison’s water.

And that’s just what the UW Fishing Team does.

Lee Zinn, a senior majoring in biology who was president of the UW Fishing Team for two years, says that the fishing team is a great thing to have on campus.

“We were founded in 1996 and now have over 40 active members,” Zinn says. “We’re just a bunch of students who love fishing.”

Zinn, who became president of the fishing team at the end of his freshman year in 2008, credits his grandfather for introducing him to fishing.

“When I was six, my grandpa died. My parents must have felt bad for me and bought me a 14-foot aluminum fishing boat,” Zinn says. “I guess I was just destined to become a fisherman.”

So Zinn says it was an easy choice to join the UW Fishing Team his freshman year.

“My personal favorite fish is the musky. But when it comes down to it, I like to fish for whatever is biting. If a fish is biting my hook, I don’t discriminate,” Zinn says. “A fish is a fish.”

Like other UW teams, the fishing team does its fair share of travel. Zinn says the team tries to take a few fishing trips around the Midwest each year. In the past, Zinn says, they’ve gone to places like Green Bay, Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota, and Lac Vieux Desert in the Upper Peninsula.

And while many people enjoy fishing because of its relaxing nature, some members of the UW Fishing Team embrace fishing’s competitive side, as well.

“We host two collegiate bass fishing tournaments a year:  the Midwest College Shoot-Out on the Madison chain and the Wisconsin College Shoot-Out on Lake Wisconsin,” Zinn says. “There’s a lot of pride on the line.”

Teams consist of two fishermen from each college who fish for two consecutive days. At the end of the two days, whichever team has the most pounds of bass wins the tournament.

Zinn says both of these tournaments are big draws. This past September, the Midwest College Shoot-Out had 20 different collegiate fishing teams attend with UW’s Fishing Team taking third place.

But when they’re not competing against other schools for bragging rights, the team takes a more relaxed approach to fishing.

“During the fall we try to have walleye and catfish nights each week,” Zinn says. “We just throw out our fishing lines and hang out with friends on the shore on the Union. We usually catch some nice fish, too.”

But when the ice begins to freeze, contrary to what some people might think, the UW Fishing Team remains busy.

“When you say ‘fishing,’ a lot of people automatically think summer,” UW Fishing Team member Trevin Kreier says. “But in honesty, we probably do more ice fishing than anything.”

Zinn attributes this to a lack of boat availability.

“It’s pretty hard for students to keep boats here on campus. A lot of times there’s too few boats to go around,” Zinn says.  “But when there’s ice across the lakes, anybody can fish.”

But just because anybody can fish doesn’t mean everybody is familiar with it.

“I get a lot of funny looks during the winter,” Zinn says, “especially when I take my ice auger and ice fishing gear on the bus. I’m sure it’s quite a sight.”

But according to Zinn and Kreier, a few funny looks are well-worth the great fishing that surrounds Madison.

“Some of the best ice fishing in the state is right in front of the Memorial Union,” Zinn says. “The Madison lakes have some of the best ice fishing in the state.”

And Zinn welcomes anyone who wants to witness Madison’s excellent fishing to join the fishing team—no matter what

Larson with a nice bass taken on a UW Fishing Team outing

their experience level.

“All it takes to become a part of the UW Fishing Team is to attend one fishing team meeting and to pay $15 for team dues,” Zinn says.

Kreier shares a similar attitude.

“If someone wants to go out and doesn’t have all the equipment, that’s fine,” Kreier says. “Fishing team members are usually very good about lending fishing gear. All you have to do is ask.”

“Fishing is a learning experience. You’re always finding out something new. It’s all trial and error until you get it right and start catching fish,” Kreier says. “Fishing is just a great opportunity for students to get out on the water, relax and forget about school for a few hours.”

For more information on UW’s Fishing Team, as well as a list of scheduled fishing team meetings, visit www.uwfishingteam.com.

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