RAYMOND – Competitive bass fishing enters its first full season as a club activity at Hinds Community College in fall 2020.

Bass fishing - Hutzel and Romero

Hayze Hutzel, left, and Camden Romero show off their catches at the Lake Guntersville bass fishing event Sept. 4.

A pair of two-man teams from Hinds’ club took 14th and 15th place in a 148-team event Sept. 4 at Lake Guntersville, in northern Alabama. Camden Romero, of Madison, a freshman studying business administration, and Hayze Hutzel, of Flowood, a freshman studying Welding, caught three bass weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces.

A second team consisting of Colby Williams, of Florence, a freshman studying industrial maintenance, and Garrett McWilliams, of Florence, a sophomore studying industrial maintenance, caught five bass weighing a total of 14 pounds, 12 ounces. Fellow team member John Mark Berry, of Mize, a freshman studying civil engineering, also fared well, landing three bass weighing seven pounds, six ounces during the competition.

Hinds’ anglers compete in Fishing League Worldwide’s Abu Garcia College Fishing Tour, in the Southeastern Division. The foursome’s high finish in the crowded field of fellow college anglers put Hinds in the lead among Mississippi colleges and universities with bass clubs. That list includes the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Mississippi College, Itawamba Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Pearl River Community College and Blue Mountain College.

The 2020 FLW schedule has been modified due to the coronavirus pandemic and, for Hinds’ teams, continues next month with competitions in Louisiana and Kentucky. Team members also plan to participate in the B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) tournament trail starting in October.

Bass fishing - McWilliams and Williams

Garrett McWilliams, left, and Colby Williams show off their catches at the Lake Guntersville bass fishing event Sept. 4.

The college’s club grew out of demand to expand the popular college club sport from state-level bass fishing organizations, such as Bass Tactix, which helps promote bass fishing clubs in Mississippi high schools.

“It began in August 2019 when Richard Parker, who is director of operations for Bass Tactix, and Larry McWilliams, the father of one of our current club members, presented to the college and then-president Dr. Clyde Muse the need for a bass fishing team at Hinds,” said Lee Douglas, agribusiness instructor and the club’s faculty sponsor. “There were local kids who wanted to fish competitively and they wanted to go to Hinds. Because there was no fishing team at Hinds, they would’ve attended school elsewhere.”

Contest rules at the college level are based on a fish’s weight, with most contested events having a five-fish limit. Anglers compete for cash prizes to land the heaviest fish.

Fishing League Worldwide, or FLW, is based in Benton, Ky. and is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. Teams on the college circuit will compete in 2020 for the top prize, which is a $30,000 premium 17-foot bass boat outfitted with a 115-horsepower outboard motor.

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