An off-campus education in bass fishing finance

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Alan McGuckin

It was great to be back on the University of Minnesota campus earlier this week. Freshmen were walking around on their orientation tour, the bookstore was packed and even the concrete around our famous statue of “Goldie” the mascot was getting a facelift.

Everybody is headed back to school. Well, everybody except me it seems.

After winning the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Bracket Championship, I took last semester and this semester off for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to fish all the 2016 Bassmaster Open Series events.

And man, has it been an education!

First let me say, despite struggling to catch ‘em in five Bassmaster Opens so far – which were held on five different bodies of water that I’d never seen in my life - I wouldn’t trade the 39,000 lonely miles I’ve traveled across America the past nine months for anything.

Although … I might trade the cost of competing at a semi-professional level for a year’s worth of tuition at the University of Minnesota.

I’m keeping a detailed spreadsheet of my expenses, and after five tournaments, with three still remaining, I’ve spent $7,000 in truck and boat gas; $6,500 on fishing tackle; $3,600 on groceries, oil changes and miscellaneous travel costs; $1,200 on tournament lodging; and $1,350 on food – of which plenty came in the form of 29-cent Ramen Noodle packs.

That’s $19,650 in tournament expenses so far, with three events still remaining before the year is over – versus the roughly $14,000 I paid in tuition as a full-time student here at the University of Minnesota. 

Nearly every student’s story in the Bassmaster Carhartt College Series is a little different. Some aspire to be pro anglers, many do not. And everybody’s financial situation is a little different. I also want to add that this information is a bit personal, and highly specific to me. In fact, I think I’m the only college guy that’s fishing all the Opens this year.

For example, not everybody has to pay to travel as far as I do. Living in the extreme north central U.S. equates to a lot more gasoline and hotel expense. For instance, the trip to Lake Toho in Florida was 24 hours one-way for me. But then again, if you hate the thought of eating Ramen Noodles your food bill might be way more than mine at $1,350.

As your reigning champion, I feel an obligation to be honest about my experiences and hopefully shed some realistic perspective on the associated costs of fishing beyond the college ranks I’m so proud to be affiliated with.

Perhaps the greatest lesson is the one we’ve been hearing since elementary school – a college education is critically valuable! And I’ll promise you I fully intend to complete my degree in business. That degree will be valuable to sponsors if I make it as a pro, or equally valuable to a landing a full-time job I enjoy, perhaps with a fishing industry company. Either way, I’m going to finish my degree.

So best of luck to all of you this semester. Study hard like I had to in order to survive those classes in chemistry and management information systems, and I’ll see ya back on campus in January, or hopefully for a Golden Gophers football game between now and then.