Gone Fishin’

Matthew Kestufskie

Matthew Kestufskie on Lake Monroe in Bloomington, Ind., for the college regional fishing championship

Think fishing is a slow-paced, cane pole-and-bobber activity?

Think again. Sophomores Jimmy Morrow and Matthew Kestufskie have been fishing since they could walk, but now the duo cast their lines in competitive national bass-fishing tournaments.

“They’re high-octane events with powerful motors propelling top-of-the-line boats 80 mph from fishing spot to spot,” said Kestufskie, from Georgetown, Ill.

So fishing is certainly not slow, and it’s absolutely not all about luck, according to Morrow, from Arlington Heights, Ill., and Kestufskie. Competitive fishermen do an incredible amount of research leading up to the tournament, collecting information from local tackle shops and checking the weather, water temperature and amount of sunlight, and then consider all of that while fishing as quickly as possible.

The anglers made their most memorable catch last spring during a tournament on Kentucky Lake to qualify for the November regional competition in Bloomington, Ind.

“After fishing the same spot for nearly two hours, I finally hooked the big one,” Kestufskie said of the 5- to 6-pound bass, one of the biggest he’d ever caught.

The duo, wearing Northwestern logoed jerseys, competed in the National Guard FLW College Regional Fishing Championship, a nationwide competitive bass fishing program open to full-time students at four-year colleges and universities.

They struggled with difficult fishing conditions and finished well out of the running for the top prize — $25,000 awarded to both the anglers and their institution, as well as a new bass boat — but Morrow and Kestufskie were the only sophomore team to qualify, making them the youngest competitors.

“We did not do very well, but we learned a lot about how to become better anglers,” said Kestufskie. “We are confident that we will make a large improvement next year in the series.” They plan to enter four tournaments this season, beginning March 12 on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

Morrow and Kestufskie talk about the thrill of competitive fishing and where to find the fishing hot spots near campus.