UWL fishers qualify for nationals

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UWL fishers qualify for nationals

Colby Wolff (Left) and Gage Griffin (Right)
Photo via https://www.facebook.com/UWLFishing/

Colby Wolff (Left) and Gage Griffin (Right) Photo via https://www.facebook.com/UWLFishing/

Colby Wolff (Left) and Gage Griffin (Right) Photo via https://www.facebook.com/UWLFishing/

Colby Wolff (Left) and Gage Griffin (Right) Photo via https://www.facebook.com/UWLFishing/

Trevor Kliebenstein, Sports Reporter

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The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Fishing Team had success April 12 at the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) College Series Tournament at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky. Gage Griffin and Colby Wolff qualified for nationals by placing 6th in the tournament and catching five fish at a total of 16 pounds, 1 ounce.

Wolff had one word to describe qualifying for nationals: surreal. He said, “It was surreal in the moment and it’s still surreal now. It’s been over a week since the tournament, yet I still feel the same. I’m still in awe of how we performed. Getting to chase those fish week in and week out is my obsession and being able to have the opportunity to represent the university, make a living and make a name for myself doing just that means more than words can describe.”

Given UWL had a tough week of practice prior to the tournament, including boat troubles and weather issues the day before the tournament, they were both shocked at how well they performed at Lake Cumberland.

For Griffin, it was his proudest moment as a fisherman. He said, “At first, I was shocked, and it didn’t even feel real to me. Once I overcame the shock, I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The tournament at Lake Cumberland was composed of 108 teams of two members each, with a large number of teams being from Division One schools. The top ten teams qualified for nationals and all ten teams besides UWL came from highly ranked division one schools. “We were competing against the best student fishermen in the country,” said Griffin.

Photo source: https://www.facebook.com/UWLFishing/
Pictured from left to right: A.J. Villarreal, Brandon Treadwell, Colby Wolff, Gage Griffin, Brady Fernette, Jordan LaRue.

After all the FLW fishing events are completed this season, over 200 of the best college fishing teams in the United States will compete at the National Championships in 2020. According to both Griffin and Wolf, the date and location aren’t yet determined for nationals, but it’ll most likely take place in the south in either the late winter or early spring. They will be allowed to fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass.

Wolff stated, “We’ll be going up against several Division One colleges as well as college fishing powerhouses like Bethel University, University of North Alabama and Bryan College. Competition will sure be tough, but we can’t wait.”

Both fishermen are excited to prepare in advance of nationals. Griffin said, “I will be fishing at least three times a week on the Mississippi River to practice fishing techniques. Additionally, I will compete in as many local and regional tournaments as possible to continue to push myself to improve as a competitive angler.” He also added that he will do extensive research on the lake nationals will take place in once the lake is announced.

Wolff is focused on preparing outside the water to have the most success fishing at nationals. He said, “Reading fishing articles, watching videos and pre-fishing during the given practice periods are all going to help us prepare. And you can bet we’ll be ready.”

Both fishermen have goals of bringing UWL its first fishing national championship, however, with over 200 of the best fishing teams in the country, that’ll be a tough goal to achieve. “If we don’t win, I don’t want to leave anything on the table. I simply want to give it my all, perform to the best of my abilities and have fun,” said Wolff.

Wolff will be competing at his second consecutive national championship, and he’ll bring some experience to a squad that has an interesting mixture of fishing styles. According to Griffin, Wolff is more of a power fisherman whereas Griffin enjoys what he calls ‘finesse fishing.’

While Wolff and Griffin are the only two UWL fishermen to qualify for the national championships, there are still two more tournaments where other UWL members can qualify for the 2020 national tournament. The first tournament will be held on the Mississippi River in Wabasha, Minnesota in July, with the second being on Lake of the Ozarks in the fall.


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