Sac State Bass Fishing Club to compete in national tournament

Club wins first and second place on the Delta


Robert Moon

From left, Sac State Bass Fishing Club members Ilya Guryanov, Christopher Orgon and Aaron Nguyen fish by the Guy West Bridge Oct. 22. The club took first and second place in the Fishing League Worldwide Tournament on the California Delta.

Sacramento State’s Bass Fishing Club recently took first and second place in the YETI FLW College Fishing Event on the California Delta held Sept. 28, earning a spot in the national bass fishing tournament in Florida next year.

According to Fishing League Worldwide, club members and Sac State students Ilya Guryanov and Will Karnthong came in first with a five bass catch weighing 15 pounds and two ounces total. Aaron Nguyen and Christopher Orgon took second place with a total of 13 pounds and two ounces. 

The team took home $3,000 in prize money and earned a spot among college anglers nationwide at the 2020 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship to be held February 26 at Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes

Many of the group’s members say they enjoy bass fishing as a chance to unwind from the stress of college life.

“There’s a lot of stress that goes into schoolwork,” said Nguyen, a club member and junior mechanical engineering major. “But when the weekend comes around and I’m on the water, I’m by myself and I can reconnect with nature. It’s very therapeutic.”

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Orgon, a senior mechanical engineering major club president, said in addition to being relaxing, bass fishing has helped him academically.

“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but my grades have significantly gotten better since I started fishing,” Orgon said. “When I get to go fishing, it’s very satisfying and meaningful for me. It adds motivation to everything I do.” 

The club currently has eight members on its sports club roster and plans to have four teams competing with the over 200 teams in the Florida tournament. Twelve additional members are in the closely-tied fishing recreation club, of which Orgon is also president.

The club formed about a year ago, in the fall 2018 semester after Orgon and several other students met and realized they were all attempting to form their own bass fishing club.

Myself, Wyatt Harpain, George Bajakian and Carlos Berrios all were trying to start one at the same time and we met each other and decided to make the club together,” Orgon said. “And that’s how the recreation club was founded.”

This semester, the club obtained sports club status with Sac State after being an independent recreation club not affiliated with the university for one year.

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Orgon said forming the club and gaining the Sac State affiliation was hard work, but the members were motivated by their desire to meet friends with common interests and fish competitively. 

“Each of us created the club for different reasons,” Orgon said. “We wanted to participate in college tournaments, learn more about fishing in this area, make friends, learn new tactics, host tournaments, and gain experience driving boats.”

Several of the club members took up fishing as a family tradition. Guryanov, a sophomore nursing major, inherited the hobby from his family. 

“My dad fished, my grandpa fished, everyone fished in our family,” Guryanov said.” I fell in love with the sport and I just loved spending time on the water.” 

Nguyen recalled fishing with his father as early as three years old. 

“My dad got me into fishing,” Nguyen said. “The first fish I caught was at this little trout farm in Half Moon Bay where you’re 100 percent guaranteed to catch a fish. I put a worm on a bobber and saw that bobber go down and caught my first trout.” 

After that first experience, Nguyen progressed from trout fishing to bass fishing, which he now enjoys for its strategic elements. 

“A lot of people think of fishing as kicking back with a few beers and maybe you get a bite at the end of the day,” Nguyen said. “With bass fishing, you’re always moving, you’re always trying to figure out what the fish want. Water temperature, your spot and what kind of structure is under the water are factors for what the fish will and won’t do.” 

Orgon says that bigger fish require more patience than the smaller catches and deliberate effort must be taken to catch them. 

“The bigger the fish are, the smarter they are because they’ve lived a lot longer,” Orgon explained. “They’re keen and spooked by your lure. You have to wait for your bait to reach the bottom, otherwise, you’ll get the smaller fish.” 

In addition to competing in national tournaments, the club wants to host their own local tournament in Sacramento. Orgon said he hopes that next semester, the club will be able to accomplish this goal before he graduates in the spring. 

The club wants to follow the example set by college bass fishing clubs on the East Coast and in the Southern states, where fishing is more ingrained in the culture. 

“College fishing clubs are a lot more popular in the South and East Coast and they have a lot of great fundraisers and events we want to implement eventually,” Orgon said.

To cover traveling expenses for next year’s trip to Florida, the club has started fundraising with the Yankee Candle corporation. The Fundraiser will continue until December 10. The club will receive 40 percent of sales made through the Yankee Candle website if customers enter the club’s information when making a purchase.

Orgon went on to say that he feels optimistic about the club’s prospects in next year’s Florida tournament. 

“It’s a good opportunity to showcase our skills,” Orgon said. “ None of us have fished in Florida but the environment is similar to the California Delta. The water is very clear and the lakes are not very deep. We feel we’ll have an advantage over the other teams.”

Additional reporting by Robert Moon.