Florida Gateway College will soon be the home of an FGC Fishing Club, set to begin operation in Fall 2020.

The FGC Fishing Club will be overseen by Club Advisor Rob Chapman. Chapman is an International Game Fish Association world record angler and has won tournaments in both freshwater and saltwater.

“We want to run our FGC Bassmasters Club just like a high-level athletic team,” said Chapman. “We’re going to recruit anglers with successful track records at the high school level, and also open the door to anyone else who loves bass fishing to have an opportunity to learn the sport from the very basics all the way to how to become a successful professional angler.”

Joining Chapman will be three professional Bassmasters anglers completing an all-star staff of leaders in the competitive fishing industry:

Shaw Grigsby

Mr. Shaw Grigsby fishes professionally and has hosted his own television show, “One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby,” for the past 20 years. He is world-famous in the bass and fishing industry.

“The sport is expanding rapidly. There’s so many people that enjoy the outdoors and love to fish and so this is just a natural progression of showing how great a sport it is.” “If you come to [Florida] Gateway College, first off, you’re going to have a great set of coaches, you’re gonna have a great support system behind you, and this team is gonna start off being really competitive right out of the gate.”

Hunter Bland

Mr. Bland was President of the University of Florida’s Bass Club for three years.  He fishes professionally and is a world renowned safety expert.  He is Skeeter/Yamaha’s National Boating Advocate. “Now you see youngsters from age eight and nine getting involved in the sport of bass fishing. It keeps them out of trouble, but it keeps them learning great things from conservation to marketing to business, a lot of life skills and we’re going to build on that.”

Ron Ryals

Mr. Ryals bass fishes professionally and is the most senior guide at Bienville Plantation which is a top bass fishing destination in the U.S.  He was the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour’s 2010 and 2013 Angler of the Year.  He fished the Bassmasters Open in 2009, 2010, and 2013. “Hopefully I can share some of the knowledge I’ve learned over the past twenty-something years fishing professionally as a guide and fishing tournament trails.”

“We definitely need our youth anglers to get involved for the conservation side of it. A big part of the bass fishing industry is conservation, so that will be one big thing that we do here also.”

Chapman sees real potential for FGC to become a national powerhouse in the sport. “There is no other sport at the college level that a college of our size can be immediately competitive with the biggest colleges in the nation. From Day One, we’ll be competing with University of Florida, Auburn, Kansas, Minnesota, Bethel, and more.”

Goals for the club include fully funding 10 student athletes in the Bassmasters and FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) tours. To make this possible, the club has set a fundraising target of $25,000 and looks forward to working with community partners and sponsors to reach this goal.

FGC President Dr. Lawrence Barrett is excited for what the club could mean for the college and the community. “We have the best high school fishing teams and anglers right in our backyard, along with some of the most talented and connected professionals in the industry,” said Barrett. “So this was a natural fit and a win-win for Florida Gateway College and our students.”

For more information contact Hunter Bland at 352-789-1185 or Rob Chapman at rob.chapman@fgc.edu