Several members of the Kansas State University Fishing Team were on hand recently for the Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show at the Kansas Expocentre to spread their knowledge of fishing to others.
“I start every seminar with the approach of everyone having the same basic knowledge, and then throughout the seminar and at the end, ask questions and ask the audience to ask questions so you can get a better idea of what their experience level is,” Nekolny said. “As they give you feedback, you go more in depth with each subject.”
Nekolny said his main goal was to give the audience an understanding of fish movements and how to approach a body of water throughout the year. He grew up fishing in the Florida Everglades and was surprised to see how different fishing was in Kansas compared to Florida.
“For me, my experience with fishing through school, I came up here from Florida and truly thought I had a really good understanding of bass fishing,” said Nekolny, who fished competitively in his youth, as well. “But I learned very quickly when I came to Kansas that Florida is a completely different beast than anywhere else in the country. So coming up here, I learned a great deal of information and tactics and understanding of fish movements through our team adviser, Doug Smith. He took my fishing level and experience to a whole different level.”
Nekolny is looking to get a job with a fishing company after school and hopes to continue fishing competitively, at least at a local level.
Brandon Patterson was scheduled to discuss pre-spawn bass fishing, but he was unable to attend because of an illness.
Nonetheless, he said he was thankful for the opportunity to represent K-State through fishing and events like the Boat and Outdoor Show.
“Fishing for Kansas State has been a fantastic experience, it has been a great asset to meet people in the fishing industry both locally and nationally by representing and working with our great sponsors,” said Patterson, who is a junior social science major from Garden Plain. “I do plan to compete in many regional team trails in Missouri after my time at Kansas State. I would enjoy the opportunity to fish professionally on the FLW Tour or the Bassmaster Elite Series, but a lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to get into those circuits. It’s just like the NFL or NBA, a very small percentage of the high school and college athletes actually make it to the big show.”
He was also thankful for his family and their love of the outdoors.
“I would like to add without my dad investing a lot of time to take my brother and I fishing, I would never have all the great experiences and memories,” he said. “So for all the parents out there: take your kids fishing. It’s a great opportunity that we as Americans are so fortunate to enjoy and all it requires is a small amount of your time.”
Team president Graham Howard presented on the basics of frog fishing.
“Top water fishing, especially frog fishing, is probably one of the most exciting ways to fish with the explosive strikes from the bass,” Howard said. “I will be touching on some tips and tricks to increase your hook-up ratio with the fish, as well as some modifications you can make to your frog to get better action out of it and get bigger and better blow-ups.”
Howard is in his senior year at K-State and is set to complete his last semester of classes this spring. After college, he has a six-month internship lined up that is related to the outdoors industry.
“The Kansas State fishing team has been involved with the outdoor show for a while now, but on a personal level I have been working at the show since my freshman year with this being my first year of presenting a seminar,” Howard said. “Every year, a couple members get a chance to put on a seminar at the show, and this year I was contacted by Clyde (Holscher, fishing guide), who is hosting the seminar, to give one along with two other members.”
The team was formed in January 2004, but already has a rich history as one of the top fishing teams in the country.
The Wildcats, which typically consist of about 30 members, won the Bassmaster College Series National Championship last July on Green River Lake in Kentucky. Three K-State teams qualified for the tournament, with the two-man team of Kyle Alsop and Taylor Bivins taking first place in the 89-team field.
K-State also won the FLW College Fishing National Championship in 2012, with champion Ryan Patterson fishing solo after his partner was disqualified.
“It is definitely a dream come true to represent K-State all over the country and, as well, the many awesome sponsors we have as a team,” Howard said. “I had knowledge of the team before I enrolled at K-State, but I came to K-State for the Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management program, which at the time was the only educational program like it.
“It just so happened that in one of my classes freshman year, I sat in front of a member of the team talking about their next meeting, and that’s how I got onto the team — by going to that meeting.”
Howard, a Sabetha native, was introduced to the sport as a boy while fishing with his father and grandfather. He said the addiction grew from there.
“I have been involved in the outdoors and fishing basically my whole life and got introduced to tournament fishing when I got to K-State,” Howard said. “Talking in front of a large group about something you grew up and love doing is a lot easier than talking about topics that you aren’t as passionate about.”