While some students spend their free time running, relaxing or spending time with friends, over 40 students are active members of Notre Dame’s fishing club.
The club — started about four years ago by Dave Patterson, a 2009 alumnus — does not meet regularly but usually participates in three tournaments and four to five recreational outings per year, according to sophomore Sam Stimple, president of the fishing club.
“In the fall, we do a few low-key outings on the campus lakes and the St. Joseph River, and we also held a fly casting clinic,” Stimple said. “We also go to the fall and spring Collegiate Steelhead tournaments and the Icebox Bass Tournament in the spring.”
Although the club aims to attend all three tournaments, this year was a slow year for the club as they were unable to attend any of the aforementioned tournaments due to various conflicts and complications.
“We had a lot of member conflicts with the two Steelhead tournaments this year,” Stimple said. “The Icebox tournament pairs us up with boaters, but there has been a shortage of boaters due to the economy, so we were unable to go the past two years.”
The collegiate tournaments involve fishing clubs from regional universities, such as Western Michigan, Indiana and Purdue. However, Stimple said club officers are currently looking for new tournaments to participate in next year to provide more opportunities for club members.
The fishing club currently enlists 37 dues-paying members and several current and former club officers. Stimple said club dues cover the costs of a club shirt, necessary equipment, gas, hotel accommodations and entry fees for tournaments.
But club members are required to purchase their own fishing licenses and food during the club’s trips.
Although the majority of club members have fished prior to joining the club, a large range of experience exists between club members, from those who fish every day in the summer to members who only fish at school.
“No one should be scared of not being experienced enough to join the club,” Stimple said. “It’s not that important to have previous experience.”
In addition to participating in outings and tournaments, the club’s major project this year was preparing and maintaining their recently acquired boats for use on the campus lakes.
“We had to make sure they were up to safety standards and purchase life jackets, oars and a trailer,” Stimple said. “We can start using the boats by next weekend.”
Stimple said goals for next year include buying a slow motor for each boat to simplify fishing on campus and to purchase enough equipment for members to be able to fish nearby more often. He also said he hopes to find a way to use the boats on nearby rivers in addition to on campus.
Stimple said many members heard about the club at Activities Night and also through friends who have been members in the past, but he encouraged anyone with an interest in fishing to consider joining the club.
“It’s a fun way to get out and relax during busy or stressful stretches of school,” Stimple said. “We want to see club membership grow next year.”
In the future, Stimple said he hopes club members take advantage of the opportunity to fish on their own time during the school year.
“If a club member wants to fish on his own, he just has to e-mail the officers, and they will do their best to provide the necessary equipment,” Stimple said. “No one needs their own equipment, so members can just find a friend and fish whenever they want to.”