This year at the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) College Fishing Nationals, the Kansas State University team of Travis Blenn, senior in park management and conservation, and Kyle Alsop, a December 2016 alumnus in mechanical engineering, took first place with 41 pounds and 12 ounces total after three days of the competition at Wheeler Lake in Alabama June 2.
Jeremy McDiffett, adviser for the K-State Bass Fishing Team and IT support specialist for the College of Veterinary Medicine, became the new adviser in February and helped the team gear up for the competition.
“I was very proud of the way [Alsop] and [Blenn] represented themselves and Kansas State University, but I was not surprised,” McDiffett said. “They had a plan. After day two, I knew that they were in the driver’s seat to win it. So I didn’t contact them and watched online on day three while they fished. They are both competitive fishermen, and they didn’t need any advice from me.”
Blenn said he had a hard time believing they won at first.
“It was really unbelievable; it really is hard to describe the feeling,” Blenn said. “I know for me personally, it really made me want to win a title that much more. It really is hard to describe the feeling because it honestly hasn’t really set in for either of us.”
Alsop said he enjoyed winning another national bass fishing title and having the experience with one of his best friends.
“It was an incredible experience to win with one of my best friends,” Alsop said. “Going into this tournament we had only fished a few times together, so we had a blast learning how each other likes to fish. Being the only person to ever win multiple college fishing championships is also a pretty cool stat to have.”
To prepare for the tournament, Blenn and Alsop looked up lake maps and picked spots based on seasonal patterns. After looking up information about local tournaments to see the weigh-ins of fish caught, Blenn and Alsop had an idea of what to expect.
With three days of practice before the competition, they were able to get out and see what Lake Wheeler had to offer.
The last national champion the bass fishing team had was Ryan Patterson in 2012. By surprise, Patterson came down to Lake Wheeler to see compete Alsop and Blenn and wished them luck.
“[Patterson] met us out on the dock in the morning before day two takeoff to wish us luck, as he did on day three as well,” Blenn said. “He was also there at the final weigh-in to watch us bring home the title, which was really special since he was the one who really put K-State on the map by winning the team’s first national title.”
Blenn said he took winning the national championship as a moment to learn and prepare for next season.
“It really just gives you that much more drive to go out and do the best you can,” Blenn said. “I have another year at K-State where I will continue to fish the college circuit. After college, I will continue to fish the BASS Nation events, as well as fishing the BLW events. Then, hopefully move up and fish in some of the BASS Opens and FLW Costa Events and just see where it takes me.”
Alsop said his goals for the tournament were to gain experience and keep working toward a great game plan.
“My game plan is to go out fish my style and have fun doing it,” Alsop said. “If the stars align and it’s meant to be, then it will all work out. I just want to enjoy the experience that every serious angler dreams of.”
McDiffett said he is impressed by Alsop’s extensive fishing career before graduating from K-State.
“[Alsop] has had arguably the best collegiate fishing career of anyone in the nation,” McDiffett said. “As the 2016 B.A.S.S Carhartt College Series National Champion, and now the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Champion, he has done something that I’m not sure any other collegiate angler has ever accomplished. He has represented himself and Kansas State University well. I look forward to seeing how his fishing career progresses professionally in the future.”
Alsop, while competing for many titles, said he loves to continue learning new things at new tournaments.
“The beauty of this sport is that no two days on the water are ever the same,” Alsop said. “Each time you go out, you have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. That’s one of the things that I love so much about it. You’re constantly learning new things.”