Bass University teaches East Texans to make the most of local fishing opportunities
ATHENS, Texas (KLTV) - Bass University is an educational program that travels around the country teaching people how to fish for bass. They held a set of events Saturday and Sunday in Athens featuring advice from professional anglers.
“If you want to catch more and bigger bass, you’re in the right spot,” said Dean of Bass University Pete Gluszek. “We have six professional anglers from the Bassmaster elites and major league fishing at each event. We give seminars throughout the day. We have breakout sessions, workshops, and our goal is that when you leave here to leave here with confidence and some new tools to help you be more consistent and become a better angler.”
He said it’s great to come to Texas since there are so many enthusiastic anglers. “The biggest bass live here in Texas. Everybody loves it, our class here is phenomenal — they’re so invested.”
Bass fishing is actually the most popular sport fish in freshwater and salt water, according to Gluszek. He also said the freshwater fishery in Athens does a remarkable job of supporting anglers. “They have a lunkershare program where big fish — 13 pounders plus — are kept and spawned, and they restock the lakes with the gene pool from these great big fish, so they have great big bass all over Texas from O.H. Ivie down to Lake Fork, Sam Rayburn, down at the lakes in Falcon way down South Texas. They’re all stocked with these amazing largemouth, so it’s really destination fishing for the whole world here in Texas.”
The program also focuses on making fishing accessible to people of all age groups.
“Our students range from 12 years old to retirees and everywhere in-between, so we love to see the kids. We love everybody that loves fishing like us,” Gluszek said.
Full-time fishing pro Alton Jones, of Lorena, also attended the event. He taught about “sight fishing” and gave a seminar on how bass follow what he calls “underwater superhighways.” He agreed that bass fishing is the number one sport fish in America and suggested this may be because of the dynamic aspects of it.
“I think the thing that attracts everybody to bass is...to successfully fish for bass you have to kind of be a thinking man,” Jones said. “Everytime you’re on the water, it changes just a little bit. It’s not that you can just learn one set of rules or system that you’re going to follow and always have success. You’ve always got to change, you’ve always got to adapt, and that really keeps us as anglers engaged in it because it’s a constant learning process.”
One of the main purposes of the Athens freshwater fisheries is to educate youth, and Jones said this is a great step for keeping the next generation interested in what he and many others have enjoyed throughout their lives.
“Fishing is a legacy, and we need to be educating the next generation as well on how to love this sport of bass fishing, so they can take care of the resource like we have,” Jones said. “Fishing is really popular nationwide, from the far northern reaches of the country all the way to the southern parts of Texas and Florida. There’s largemouth bass just about everywhere you look, and it’s amazing, we have people traveling here, to Athens today, from all over the United States.”
Keith Combs, from Huntington, said he’s just here “to talk fishing.” He started tournament fishing at 13 and has been professional for 15 years. He presented on offshore fishing, a specialty for him, and “run and gun” tournament approaches.
“It’s been a great ride,” Combs said. “I’ve got to see the country and really meet all of my friends doing this, so that’s been a great part of the journey, and catch a lot of fish along the way.”
He said he likes to catch all kinds of fish, but bass have always kept his interest because “you have to constantly study the game.” He’s not surprised by the turnout in Athens, though, because he claims East Texas has some of the best bass fishing in the world.
Among the attendees was Ty Nichols, from Bend, Oregon. He said his wife found out about the classes and bought him trip tickets for Christmas.
“It’s been great, a good learning experience with a lot of information, a lot of knowledge passed around,” Nichols said. He said he’s learning strategies for how to catch bigger fish, compared to the bass back home.
“I’m excited to get back home and try these tricks out,” he said.
Bass University will visit Athens again in 2024, so you can catch them then if you weren’t able to make it this year. Their seminars are also available online at bassu.tv.
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