By Chelsea Stockton
University News Service
June 15, 2009
Jay McCollum and David Cosner
Sitting in the “hot seat,” David Cosner and Jay McCollum waited anxiously for the last of 40 teams to weigh in their catch of the day and seal the Bass Cats’ fate at the 2009 National Guard FLW College Fishing Texas Division Tournament on Lake Amistad May 23.
The hot seat is associated with the team bringing in the greatest weight of bass. The team with the leading weight occupies the hot seat. Once another team’s catch surpasses this weight, the former team is removed from the hot seat, and the new team takes possession.
Being only the second team to have been weighed, McCollum did not exaggerate when he said, “We sat in the hot seat for a long time.”
But David Cosner and Jay McCollum were not disappointed.
The Texas State University-San Marcos Bass Cats team won the event with six bass weighing in at 16 pounds, 10 ounces. The team won $10,000 to be distributed evenly between the school and the school’s bass-fishing club. It was the Bass Cats’ first time to compete at this tournament.
David Cosner, founder and president of the Bass Cats, started the club only last year in the hopes that his interest would resonate with students.
Cosner said he first started fishing at the age of 4 with his father. He started tournament fishing when he was 12 years old.
“It was like solving an equation. Finding a certain lure for a certain kind of fish,” Cosner said. “I liked that. Everyone‘s like ‘Oh, a bass fish, throw a bobber.’ But there‘s so much more to it to it than that.”
Bass Cats Vice President Jay McCollum joined the team in its fledgling state. “When I met Dave he was putting up fliers,” McCollum said.
Cosner recounted the difficulties the two experienced in getting the team off the ground.
“For a while we felt we were in over our heads,” Cosner said. “It was a lot of work, but now it’s getting to where it can run itself. Luckily, I’ve had my right hand man Jay here to back me up.”
A year after its take off, Bass Cats now has 16 members, three of whom are women, and a collegiate tournament win to boot. But getting there was no easy feat. Along with finding the funds to cover expenses for starting a new team, such as travel costs, T-shirts and gas expenses (what Cosner refers to as “go juice”), the team also had to find practice sites. McCollum said that to get the experience of what a tournament might be like the team holds club tournaments at lakes such as Bastrop and Fayette County.
However, the two men emphasized that nothing is as instructive, or thrilling, as being on-site at an actual tournament.
“Out there, you’re dealing with it all,” Cosner said. “Motors breaking, equipment breaking, bad weather, sunburn, raccoon tan, missed fish . . .”
“Just finding the fish,” McCollum said with a laugh.
The FLW collegiate series provides the teams with all the equipment they need, including professional anglers who take the teams out in their personal boats. The tournaments don’t require any entry fee, and all participants are given a travel allowance. McCollum said that these are some of the best features of the FLW collegiate tournaments.
“It’s just an incredible opportunity,” McCollum said. “It allows college students to compete at a professional-style event.”
The tournaments are also excellent way to meet people from different schools with the same interests. “Yes, they are the competition. But off the water they become good friends,” Cosner said.
As to the fate of the fish, all bass catches get thrown back into the water.
“All these are fish are released,” McCollum said.
“‘Fish are friends, not food,’” said Cosner, playfully quoting the film Finding Nemo.
“Now a catfish,” McCollum said with a grin, “that’s a different story.”