The sport of fishing isn’t as simple as getting on a boat, motoring to the middle of a lake and casting a rod — at least not competitive fishing.
As a member of Indiana University’s club fishing team, Columbus East graduate Chase Banister is schooled in the art of finding schools of fish. And usually when he finds them, it results in a big haul that puts him near the top of the leaderboard of the tournament in which he is competing.
Banister, who started the Bass Fishing Club at East, has been fishing almost as long as he has been walking. He has been fishing competitively for five years.
“I would say that the guys across the country that are competitive fishermen devote a lot of time to it,” Banister said.
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“They’re able to learn from a lot of different people and different scenarios, and then develop that into a skill set that you can use down the road. And it takes a lot of money.”
With fishing being a club sport and not a varsity sport at IU, it has team sponsors. Team members also can obtain personal sponsors.
Since fishing is not an NCAA sport, individuals can earn prize money. They typically use winnings to pay for entry fees in upcoming tournaments.
About 610 colleges of all sizes have club fishing teams. The IU squad has about 25 guys with no coach and is self-run.
“I would stress that college fishing is a lot more involved,” Banister said. “The teams are bigger. It’s taken a lot more seriously throughout the country. The tournaments are bigger. Everybody fishing has their own boat. Everybody travels. Everywhere you go, you’re fishing with the best in the world.”
Two weekends ago, Banister and IU teammate Tyler Trout of Brazil, Indiana, finished third in a Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) conference qualifier on Kentucky Lake. That qualified them for the Central Conference championship in October on Carlyle Lake in Illinois.
Most college tournaments are one-day, eight-hour events, with the national championship being eight hours a day for two days. Anglers take the sum of their top five bass caught, culling the smallest fish out after landing five bass.
“It really depends on the day that you’re having,” Banister said. “Down there (at Kentucky), we probably caught 20-25 fish. It was a phenomenal day.”
Banister and Trout’s haul from Kentucky Lake was 20 pounds, eight ounces.
“Kentucky Lake right now is known as a deep fishing lake this time of year,” Banister said. “They get out there and they school out on these ledges, and the key to winning there this time of year is to be able to find the big schools of fish down there.
“It was who practiced right and who practiced the hardest,” he said. “We went down there for two days and just idled around and tried to find the schools, and we ended up whacking a couple of schools. It just turned out for us.”
This past year, IU finished second in the Minnow Bucket, which featured the club teams in Indiana, behind Ball State on Geist Lake. The Hoosiers finished third in the Big Ten on Pontiac Lake in Michigan
“We’re so centrally located here that I would say we have an advantage,” Banister said. “We don’t have to go very far to get south, and we don’t have to go very far to get north, where the guys down south have to travel a ways to get north and the same for the guys north to get south. I think it gives us an advantage over those other teams.”
IU contests its home matches on Monroe Lake.
“Monroe right now is a mental grind,” Banister said. “You can either have a really good day, or a really bad day. There’s not a huge population of fish in there like there was at the tournament we got back from. There are a lot of big fish on Monroe, but it doesn’t have a lot of fish in general.
“Here in Indiana, it’s tougher to catch fish, so I feel we’re more prepared to grind it out, where other teams coming in sometimes can’t keep it together,” he said.
Banister learned to fish on Grandview Lake, where his family has a house.
“Being able to fish there, it’s super clear and very deep,” Banister said.
Tom Banister, Chase’s father, said the family used to take fishing trips to Canada. He said his son has always loved fishing and being on the water.
“He fished with myself and his grandfather around here, and he was always ready to go, rain or shine,” Tom Banister said. “He was pretty natural at it. It was pretty positive for him to learn about competing and being organized and being timely and taking his lunch and whether he needs rain gear or sun gear. He’s learning a lot of good life skills.”
Name: Chase Banister
High School: Columbus East
College: Indiana University
Did you know: Banister was a starting cornerback on East’s football team as a junior and was a regional qualifier in track and field.