The Southern Arkansas University Bass Fishing Team has had a productive fall season and looks forward to representing the University at a championship event in December. Warren Basinger, team president, said the club will have four individuals competing in the Arkansas Collegiate Series Championship in December on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville. The team members – Basinger, Dalton Keith, Drake Vines, and Levi Harger – earned their spots by competing in two state qualifiers. They also competed in two FLW regional events on the Red River in Shreveport and at Fort Gibson in Wagoner, Okla. with the efforts of trying to qualify for a national championship.
The regular season has concluded, with the team reaching its highest ranking in March at No. 56 among all collegiate bass fishing teams in the nation. “We are now preparing for our new season in the spring,” Basinger said.
“This is our first year fishing the Arkansas Collegiate Series,” he said. “We were in some tough tournaments, but we made a good presence.” The December event will be the first championship in which the SAU team will compete. “We’ll be fishing against some great teams – 30 to 40 of the more committed student athletes in the state,” he said. “It’s a cool format, and it’ll be open to teams from outside the state, as well. We are excited about it.”
Basinger said he has fished Lake Dardanelle many times, and winning will come down to consistency. “It’ll take finding something that’s stable, a pattern that’s going to hold up over two days. You might not catch the biggest 5-fish limit the first day, but you want the best combined weight over both days. I feel good about our chances of cracking that code.”
The team boasts 25 members this year. He said the team recruits regularly from high school fishing programs around the state. “We’re looking for those who have seen it all and know how to handle lots of different situations. We want members who can handle tournament situations, weather and mechanical breakdowns and can take care of what needs to be taken care of.”
The state is filled with talented fishing competitors. “We’re the Natural State, you can go anywhere and find clear water, rivers, natural reservoirs, manmade reservoirs, rocks, woods, sandbars, and you have a wide array of anglers. You have people who can fish shallow, deep, dark, coffee-stained water – it doesn’t matter, they can do it all. I know they are going to go to college and fish somewhere, I would just love for it to be SAU.”
He said he is trying to build up the SAU program with team members who can take the lead in the future. So far, the team has been successful, especially considering its national ranking among college teams.
“We were ranked 56th at the beginning of March,” he said. “That’s out of 250 or 300 teams. It does show how you’re doing for the year.”
He said he’s proud of the team’s progress, “but we don’t want to stop. I want to see us getting better and better. I don’t want us to peak. Right now, in our intermission season, we are going to be raising funds to pay for travel. We’re always trying to improve and be more efficient.”
Basinger is a sophomore from Magnolia, Arkansas, majoring in Marketing. Harger is a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering from Ashdown, Arkansas. Vines is a freshman from El Dorado, Arkansas, majoring in Accounting. Keith is a freshman from Magnolia, majoring in Pre-Health Biology.
To contact the fishing team with questions or to join, you can contact Basinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.