In college, I always made sure to use every single “sick day” the professors gave us. I’d power through illness and hangover to be in class, but if the bite was hot anywhere within a few hours of campus, my desk was empty.
Some colleges are much closer to good fishing than mine, and I wonder if that would have made me a better or worse student. It damn sure would have made my college years better. If you’re about to finish high school and want quality fishing within casting distance of the dorms, then consider one of these schools. All of them come highly recommended by MeatEater staff.
Lake Superior State University – Sault Sainte Marie, MI
“I was instructed to write 100 words on why Lake Superior State University, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is the best college for fishermen. Since I wanted to use my word count wisely, I’m forgoing the use of poetics and beautiful prose.
Instead, here’s a simple list of reasons: king salmon, coho salmon, pink salmon, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, splake, lake whitefish, menominee, muskellunge, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, pumpkinseed, bluegill, black crappie, smelt, burbot, bullhead, and channel catfish. I could go on, but I’ve already surpassed my limit of 100 words.” –Steven Rinella
San Diego State University – San Diego, CA
“San Diego county has 23 lakes, many of which house bass that swallow 8-inch stocked trout like a fat kid on a Cheeto bender. While bass represent the marquee freshwater target, they’re not the only one. These lakes also have bluegill, crappie, carp, channels cats, and the biggest blue cats in the state—over 100 lbs.
The best reason for anglers to consider San Diego State, however, is the surf fishing. Walk the beaches and sight cast to surf perch, corbina, croaker, halibut, and leopard sharks. Or, if you’ve got access to a boat, the two bays and various kelp beds offer a lifetime of fishing opportunity, primarily targeting calico bass and yellowtail.” –Miles Nolte
South Dakota State University – Brookings, SD
“It pains me to say this as a former University of South Dakota Coyote, but our biggest rival bests us in fishing opportunity. Located in the east-central part of the state, South Dakota State is an hour’s drive from some of the finest walleye and panfishing in the Midwest.
No boat? No problem. There’s shoreline access aplenty, where you’ll be able to cast to shallow walleye, smallmouth and pike in spring and fall. If you like ice fishing—even better. The Glacial Lakes around Brookings usually turn hard in early November and stay that way through late March. You’ll be around plenty of like-minded folks, too. One of SDSU’s most popular majors is wildlife and fisheries science, so there’s no shortage of fishing reports for local water.” –Spencer Neuharth
Bethel University – McKenzie, TN
“Bethel University has one of the best collegiate BASS teams in the nation, proven by their Bassmaster College Series National Championship earlier this year. The small school has an unmatched fishing culture that pulls in anglers from all over the South.
High schoolers with a passion for fishing choose Bethel for good reason. The campus is just 30 minutes west of Kentucky Lake and 90 minutes east of the Mississippi River, placing it right between world class bass and catfish waters. You could fish everyday of your undergrad here and never cast to everything the area has to offer.” –Paul Bourcq
University of Montana – Missoula, MT
“I used to bring a fly rod to my classes at the University of Montana. My second year, I would cross the Clark Fork River twice a day commuting to and from class. The infamous ‘Hollywood Hole,’ wedged between campus and the Double Tree Hotel at the mouth of Rattlesnake Creek, is a great place to make an ass of yourself in front of an audience. But it’s also a great place to find huge trout hanging in the coldwater refuge.
Campus is barely 15 minutes from the Blackfoot and Bitterroot rivers, as well as countless good-sized creeks holding rainbows, browns, Westslope cutthroat, and the mythical bull trout. The Flathead and Seeley lake systems also provide excellent warm water fishing nearby.” –Sam Lungren