Anglers reel in another
Big Ten title
It was a rout. No contest. If it were a prizefight, they would have stopped it by Round 2.
But this was the Big Ten bass fishing championship, where men are men and fish are nervous. Eight hours of fishing, non-stop, good weather or bad.
Purdue’s 10-member bass fishing team (five from Purdue Agriculture) claimed the school’s fourth Big Ten championship by hauling 20 fish (40.55 pounds) out of northern Indiana’s Lake Maxinkuckee. Runner-up Michigan State caught 10 fish weighing 17.70 pounds during the April event.
“Yeah,” says senior team member Aaron McAlexander, “we certainly put a hurtin’ on them.”
Purdue’s bass fishing team was organized in 1992 and has won Big Ten championships in 1996, 2000 and 2002. In 1996, only three teams competed. This year’s field represented all Big Ten schools except Penn State and Minnesota.
McAlexander, from Charlestown, Ind., teamed with fellow senior Paul Smith of Lafayette, Ind., to lead the team to a championship hosted by Indiana University.
“Knowing they (IU) were the hosts made the win that much sweeter,” Smith says. He and McAlexander are fisheries and aquatic sciences majors.
Purdue’s team boasts of 80 members who solicit sponsorships to support the program. A points system determined the 10 members who would compete in the Big Ten tournament.
Three other team members — Michael Allen, a junior from Whitestown, Ind., Braden Kemerling, a senior from Poseyville, Ind., and Jacob Spencer, a freshman from Battle Ground, Ind. — are also Purdue Agriculture students.
Most of the fish were caught in a channel, partially protected from the wind, rain and sleet that was blowing hard across Maxinkuckee’s open water.
“We were packed in there pretty tight,” admits McAlexander, who, on occasion, has played hooky from class when the lure of fishing has been too great to deny. “I think you could have walked across the channel from boat to boat and never gotten your feet wet.”
Smith erased any doubts about the outcome by landing a 4.3-pound bass, the largest caught by any of the 74 fishermen. When the final horn sounded, Smith was quietly confident of the victory.
“As we were heading back to the dock for the weigh-in, we pulled up alongside our teammates’ boat, and I just gave them the thumbs up signal. I
knew we were in pretty good shape.”
McAlexander was a little more demonstrative. He took the championship trophy to class the following day.
“I wanted to show my professor that there was a reason for playing hooky, and it was all worth it.”