The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

New fishing club plans to fish on campus lake

No longer will yellow bikes be the only items fished from Westhampton Lake. The Center for Student Involvement approved the new campus fishing club on Jan. 15 for this spring semester.

John Obeck, president of the club, explained the necessary stipulations for founding a new campus activity. In a short presentation, Obeck and Todd Westerman, co-founder and vice president of the fishing club, described their club's “niche, need and purpose” to the Center for Student Involvement, Obeck said.

Previously, Obeck, Westerman and Tyler Campbell, co-founder and treasurer of the fishing club, needed to draft by-laws through a provisional status form on Orgsync. The founders also had to prove that at least ten potential members were interested in the club.

The fishing club now has 27 active members. Initially, Obeck was concerned about female member interest. Currently, the club has two Westhampton students.

Novice fishermen are also encouraged to join the club. “Our goal is to provide a community on campus for anglers and for teaching those who don’t know how to fish, so they can get involved with our lake on campus,” Obeck said.

Christian Park, a freshman and new fisherman, described his excitement in joining the new club. “Everyone in the club is extremely nice. It’s a good way to meet friendly people and relax. And it’ll help you later in life by preparing you to fish with potential business connections,” Park said.

The fishing club strives to take advantage of natural resources and emphasizes practicing eco-friendly fishing strategies. “Every year the lake is drained and stocked with blue gills, bass and catfish. We will follow the standard catch-and-release fishing technique to reduce waste,” Obeck said.

The fishing club also plans on participating in a James River clean-up project once each semester. It would be great to give back to the natural community while experiencing nature, Park said.

“I’ve been craving a water sport to get in touch with nature. I feel like fishing relies solely on the environment – where you are in the lake, the climate – you’re juggling nature,” Park said.

Park said the Westhampton Lake was a great but often-forgotten resource, and he was happy to finally use it. Both Park and Obeck said fishing trips to the James River were an additional privilege to fishing club membership.

Equipment will be provided for members, although a budget is yet to be quantified. New members can expand their “outdoor catalogue” with a community-based activity without the pressure of purchasing equipment, Obeck said.

In the future, Obeck said he hoped to store tackle and rods available for rent in the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. “Ten year olds and 60 year olds are always seen fishing on Westhampton Lake. You never see students fishing, and we want to change that,” Obeck said.

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The fishing club plans on starting in mid-March because of weather constrictions and to accept more interested members in the meantime.

Contact reporter Holly Speck at holly.speck@richmond.edu

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