Arkansas Tech University student Reagan Moore does not fit the mold of the average winner on the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship tournament series, but she doesn't let that stop her.
"Most girls don't even think about getting involved in college fishing because they think it's just for boys," said Moore. "But this is not just a boys' sport. Women are just as good as men."
Moore (photographed) proved those words true when she won the individual title at the Cabela's Collegiate Big Bass Bash on Lake Lavon in Allen, Texas, on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24.
With her victory, Moore became the first female angler to ever win a BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship tournament series event.
Her winning catch was a 7.84 pound bass. She also caught the third-largest fish with a 6.38 pound bass.
Moore defeated a tournament field that included anglers representing more than 40 colleges and universities, including institutions such as Harvard University, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska and the University of Arkansas.
A total of 94 competitors weighed in 119 fish during the two-day competition.
"It's the best feeling in the world to me," said Moore. "I've always wanted to be the first girl to win one of the collegiate fishing events. My whole goal was to prove that girls could do this too. The ones you see on TV, the big shots in fishing, are always guys. To be able to make a statement that girls can fish too is unbelievable to me. I'm proud of the fact that it gives Arkansas Tech good recognition."
Wade Middleton, director of college operations for the Boat U.S. Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship tournament series, said that females make up less than 2 percent of the average field at one of their events.
Moore's path to making history in the fishing world began at an early age.
"My daddy started taking me fishing as soon as I was big enough to hold a pole," said Moore, who says she was 3 or 4 years old at the time. "I've never stopped fishing since."
Moore entered her first fishing tournament around the age of 7. After graduating from Dierks High School in 2009, she enrolled at nearby Henderson State University and became a member of the fishing club. Moore transferred to Arkansas Tech so that she could pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in emergency management.
Her major changed when she transferred, but not her passion for collegiate fishing.
Moore credits her new fishing partner, fellow Arkansas Tech Fishing Club member Evan Barnes, for helping her find more success as an angler during the spring 2012 semester. Barnes and former partner Dustin Huggins, who graduated from last fall, represented Arkansas Tech in the 2011 College BASS National Championship.
Barnes was in the boat with Moore when she caught the winning fish on Lake Lavon.
"We were panicking because we knew I had hooked a big one," said Moore. "I was fighting stumps and reeling her up. I finally got her pulled to the surface and Evan got her in the net. We both sat and looked in shock for about five seconds. After that, I realized I had caught a monster bass. They could probably hear me screaming all the way across the lake."
Moore and her fellow Arkansas Tech Fishing Club members are self-supporting in their travels to tournaments around the region. The student organization is sponsored by Christy Austin, an adjunct instructor in the Arkansas Tech Department of Parks, Recreation and Hospitality Administration.
"You have to maintain a certain grade point average in order to participate in collegiate fishing," said Moore. "It helps me stay motivated, and you don't have time to get involved in things you shouldn't. Fishing takes up so much of your time. I'm focused on fishing and school work. It keeps you on your toes. You don't have a lot of choice. You have to learn good time management to be able to juggle fishing and school. It literally is what your life is."
And right now life is pretty good for Moore after she accomplished her goal of defeating the boys.
"A lot of them were heartbroken," said Moore when asked about the reaction of the male fishermen at the tournament. "This wasn't a team event, so it was every man for himself. We were all after that big bass. They were good sports. They were proud of me and excited for me. They were glad I won it instead of someone they didn't like."]]>