Strong lure: East fishing club building momentum

Indiana University junior Chase Banister is building his professional resume while enjoying one of his favorite hobbies at the same time.

The Hoosier business major is the current president of the oldest collegiate fishing program in the country. Managing the IU fishing team’s budget, sponsorships and making travel arrangements for competitions has helped him exercise his business expertise for the professional world.

Banister, who’s been president for the past year, began using his business savvy years before he landed this position. It all started back in 2013 near the end of his junior year at Columbus East when he first decided he wanted to spearhead an East fishing team.

Banister has been drawn to fishing since he could remember, and after participating in a couple of tournaments with his friends, he realized competing was something he wanted to continue doing. He said starting a fishing team would give him the chance to fish in more tournaments.

“I also knew there were some friends who wanted to get into it, also,” Banister said. “I thought it would be a good idea for everybody.”

Banister relied heavily on the help from his football defensive coordinator Eddie Vogel to get the organization up and running. Banister worked closely with Vogel on the Olympians football team while playing cornerback for three years.

The Banister and Vogel families have become close friends over the years. Banister said Vogel has been a great mentor to him and the rest of the guys as the fishing team’s advisor. Banister claims the team would not have become what it is today without the help and oversight of Vogel, who is also on the board of the Indiana High School Bass Nation.

“I owe a lot of the credit to him for getting that going,” Banister said.

Reaching the six-to-10 participants needed to become a running high school fishing team was not a hard task. The information spread through word of mouth, and Banister quickly had enough people who wanted to join. This year, the team expanded from just a high school team to a community fishing club consisting of fishers as young as second grade participating in the junior division.

East senior Zach Bolte joined the team as a freshman in the club’s first year. He always has loved to fish, so he went to a meeting to join the team after his mother saw a school advertisement and mentioned it to him.

“I love it,” Bolte said. “It’s something that’s become a real passion of mine, and I probably plan to pursue it in college after high school.”

The club has grown to about to what Bolte believes to be more than 40 high school participants. The group is split into teams of two fishers on a boat with one adult captain during competitions.They compete in four-to-five tournaments a year, including the junior and high school state championships.

The state competition has grown from just two other clubs in Bloomington South and Bloomington North during the first year to having 25-plus clubs competing. John Weddle and James Fry walked away with a third-place finish in last year’s state competition and competed at Kentucky Lake for the national championship a couple of weeks later.

Many of the club members will go out and fish among themselves since fishing is not an activity that requires club members to practice every day like basketball or football. Bolte usually heads out every weekend with three or four other club members to Mascoutah Lake or his friend’s private pond.

The club had is first fishing tournament of the season last weekend on Morse Reservoir. Banister said he is amazed that the Columbus East Fishing Club is still going strong and said the biggest difference with being over IU’s club is not having Vogel there as an adult mentor.

“With starting something new, its hard to tell if something will last,” Banister said. “A lot of credit to Eddie Vogel for still being a great mentor and running the program. I am very pleased and surprised it’s still going on.”

Fishing Club Origins

What: Columbus East Fishing Club

Founder: Chase Banister

Year founded: 2013

Advisor: Eddie Vogel

Accomplishments: John Weddle and James Fry finished third in last year’s state competition and qualified for nationals.

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.