Big time bass fishing on a college kid’s budget


Alan McGuckin

I’ll be the first to tell you how unbelievably cool and rewarding it is to participate in organized college fishing, but it also requires a lot of gas, food and hotel money to travel out of state to tournaments. And even events close to home can be financially draining just making sure you have the right tackle. 

With a lot of big Carhartt College Bassmaster tournaments taking place right now, I thought I’d share a few ways my buddies at Bethel University and I save some cash as we chase our love of bass fishing together.

Travel with Friends

This may seem like an obvious one, but you certainly don’t want to pay for gas, hotel rooms and food all by yourself. We typically pile four guys into one hotel room, which turns your portion of the hotel bill into a $15 or $20 a night stay versus $60 or $80 if you rented a room all by yourself.

Save Gas, Stay Put on the Water and Add a Chip at the Pump

Don’t be the guy that treats tournaments like a holiday weekend escape to the lake. The goal is to catch fish, not joyride at 70 mph around the reservoir.

When pre-fishing, launch in a large creek or tributary that is known to hold quality fish. Instead of burning up a bunch of pricey gas in your outboard, stay in that one area and learn everything you possibly can about where the fish live in that particular portion of the fishery, and how to catch them. 

I’m also saving money in my Toyota Tundra with the addition of a Hypertech ‘chip’ I bought online to tune that 381 horsepower towing machine for improved fuel economy. The ‘chip’ costs around $300, but so far I’m averaging 2.8 more miles per gallon, and that adds up to a ton of savings on tow vehicle fuel in the long run, no matter what brand you’re pulling with.

Make Use of Super Glue and Monofilament

Using super glue to secure all your soft plastic trailers on the back of your jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and swimbaits will keep them from tearing and seriously reduce the money you spend on soft plastics over the course of a year.

You can also save money by adding monofilament to the spool of your reel first, and then tie a Surgeon’s knot or Double Uni knot to the 50 or 70 yards of pricey braid or fluorocarbon you plan to tie to your lure. This will save you tons of money on braid and fluro each year.

Bologna, Ding Dongs and Honey Buns

Lastly, participating in organized college bass fishing should be about fun and making awesome memories, and one of the best ways to save money is to avoid eating out in restaurants. My buddies and I carry a box of Honey Buns for breakfast, make bologna and cheese sandwiches for lunch, and consider a box of Ding Dongs to be good luck in the boat, too.

I may get in trouble with the dieticians reading this – but hey, we’re just college kids having fun and trying to save a litte money while pursuing our passion for bass fishing.