If you’ve followed college fishing the last couple years, you’ve probably heard the names Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier. The West Virginia University anglers consistently finish near the top of the leaderboard in Carhartt Bassmaster College Series events as well as other top-level college fishing tournaments.
The WVU Mountaineers have racked up an impressive pile of top 10 finishes in their short fishing careers but have yet to secure a big win. A second-place finish this year in the 2019 College Bassmaster Team of the Year race by the narrowest of margins is the latest runner up outcome they’ve added to their resume.
Backtrack to a third place result in last year’s National Championship, followed by Minor’s heartbreaker of a finish to Nick Ratliff in the final round of the College Bassmaster Classic Bracket – the most life-changing title in college fishing – and you have enough close seconds to leave even the most seasoned Elite Series pro disheartened.
But not Lanier and Minor. Instead, these two have handled falling just short of victory with grace, optimism and humility. They take the good with the bad and keep a positive attitude, which shows maturity beyond their years.
“You’ve gotta look at the seconds or thirds as a positive,” Minor offered. “We just keep having fun, continue to work hard and try to give ourselves an opportunity to win the next tournament. If we keep putting ourselves in that position, it’s going to work out one of these times.”
Whether we are talking fishing, work or life that is absolutely a winning mindset – no matter where they end up on the leaderboard.
They started competition this morning for their third straight Carhartt College Series National Championship, this time on beautiful Lake Chickamauga. Of course, the ultimate goal is to hoist the trophies at Dayton Boat Dock on Saturday, but they aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves.
“We just like catching fish and being outside,” Lanier said. “Tournament bass fishing has become a big part of our lives in college, and competing has been a blast. But it doesn’t matter if we are ice fishing, fishing for trout in a little stream, hunting ducks and turkey, or fishing little hidey-holes in a kayak. We love it all.”
Lanier, a fisheries major, and Minor who studies marketing, pride themselves on being versatile anglers who can catch ‘em no matter where or how they are fishing. That will serve them well, as it seems bass are scattered from shallow grass to deep main river ledges on “The Chick” right now.
Whatever the prevailing fishing patterns end up being, don’t be surprised if Minor and Lanier are in the hunt come championship Saturday. Whether this happens to be the derby where their perseverance pays off with a top spot result or not, these young men have proven to be winners on and off the water.