Riley Welch’s family trains standard-bred horses for the racing communities in Chicago and Indianapolis, but this week at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series championship on Lake Chickamauga, the Michigan State Spartan is running as a solo pony while his team fishing partner trains for a brand new job in New York City.
“I’ve fished with Danny Sprague the last two years, but he was required to be in New York City this week for his brand new job, and I know I’m at a disadvantage fishing here without him, but man, this is my last college tournament, so I couldn’t stand not to come fish the championship,” says the 22-year-old agriculture business major from Will County, Ill.
Welch admits he’s not schooled on the Chickamauga deep water river ledge fishing game, so he’ll focus his solo efforts mostly shallow, starting with an old school Pop-R topwater, and then pick up the trusty 1/2-ounce black-blue jig or a frog.
His commitment to living life in the moment, fishing the patterns he’s most confident in, and not being mentally spun-out by the fact he’s fishing alone is certainly admirable.
Welch isn’t pretending to be on the fast track to a pro angling career, instead he hopes to carve out a prosperous life selling agriculture land. But the mere fact he’s competing in a national championship says all you need to know about his superior ability to find and catch bass. And how cool would it be if the long shot lone horse ended up in the winner’s circle?