RIT club angling for the fun and competition

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A. Sue Weisler

Jason Karol, president of RIT Anglers, casts a line in a pond near RIT’s H lot, where he caught a 3-pound largemouth bass. Club members also travel around the country to compete against other collegiate anglers.

Of the roughly 250 official student clubs at RIT, only one is primarily active during the summer.

That’s when the RIT Anglers go fishing. Sometimes they drop a line in a pond, other times they’re in boats competing in bass tournaments on the Potomac River, the Finger Lakes or Lake Ontario.

“Fishing is the enjoyable part. Catching something is just the cherry on top,” said club President Jason Karol, a fifth-year marketing and public relations major from Greece, N.Y. “There’s nothing like the feeling of having a fish at the end of your rod. I still shake like a leaf. You can never replicate that feeling.”

Karol said 15 to 25 students have been active members of the RIT Anglers each year since it was formed in 2012. Three club members have their own boats and compete in bass tournaments across the northeast and as far as Alabama from mid-March through November.

As one of 27 competitive clubs at RIT, they receive some help from the college for transportation to the events.

But they don’t always have to go far to fish. There’s even a fishing hole on campus: the pond next to H Lot, which is connected to Black Creek and the Genesee River through culverts.

“Why not?” Karol said. “It’s close, convenient and a good thing to do when you only have an hour after school or work. Fishing, for all of our club members, is really a way to get away from the crazy student lives we live. It seems as though we’re always on our cell phones and texting people. This is a way we can shut out everything and unwind a little bit.”

Members have caught northern pike, bluegill and largemouth bass weighing nearly four pounds from the pond. The fish are thrown back rather than consumed.

“Rochester is sitting in the middle of some of the best trout, salmon, pike and musky fishing opportunities in the country, if not the world,” Karol said.

The RIT Anglers make themselves known during new student orientation. They’ll take members of all skill levels, even those who have never fished before. There are several rods and reels club members can use.

“At the end of the day, we’re all passionate about fishing,” Karol said. “Every fisherman, no matter what you’re going after, brings a unique set of skills to the club. And that, to me, is invaluable.”

During the school year, speakers who will provide tips and techniques to help catch fish are brought in for meetings Tuesday nights in the Student Alumni Union.

“It’s a mental challenge,” Karol said. “It’s not just tossing a worm and bobber out there. You’re trying to figure out the fish. It’s more like a puzzle, where you’re putting pieces together, like the wind direction, water temperature, what time of year it is… You’re using your knowledge to become a better fisherman.”

The club also wants to help preserve the outdoors through conservation, even if they just pick up trash around a pond.

“I want my children to have the same fishing opportunities I had, and I want their children to do the same,” Karol said.

Video extra

To learn more about the RIT Anglers, go to bit.ly/RITanglers.

Student Clubs at RIT

Beekeeping, Japanese drumming and African dancing are among the newest of about 250 student clubs at RIT.

“It’s an essential part of student life. A student can come here not knowing anyone else and join a club and automatically know 25 other people,” said Sarah Pavia, assistant director for Clubs & Community Outreach. “We’re creating innovators and leaders. We’re really in the business of helping students prepare for the future. Students are teaching themselves how to make these things work.”

Nearly 30 of the clubs are competition clubs and receive money from the college to travel to tournaments. They include rock climbing, Quidditch, cycling, Frisbee and flag football.

Another 20 clubs involve recreational sports, but don’t travel.

Students wanting to start a new club fill out a form for Student Government and Center for Campus Life review, then talk about their plans to the Club Review Board. At least 10 students and one faculty or staff advisor are typically needed to form a club.

Proposed clubs are normally approved unless the club’s activity is deemed high-risk or too similar to an existing club. The Center for Campus Life has about 10 rooms available for club use, offers free marketing services for logos or T-shirt designs, and will print and distribute fliers to advertise their events. Clubs are also urged to raise at least 10 percent of their budget.

For more information, visit rit.edu/campuslife.

Note: Video available for this story