Attendance low at Nolin Lake fishing tournament

Kevin Allen

Few fishermen participated in the student-run Black Bag Classic fishing tournament on Saturday, as Nolin Lake had risen to nearly its highest level in history.

Most fishing events in the region were canceled because of flooding, but the students in Recreation 306 decided to go ahead with their tournament in the hopes that people from the canceled events would come, said Bowling Green senior Ally Dilliha, sponsorship manager for the event.

But Saturday’s tournament ended up being the least attended in the event’s eight year history, said Darren Smith, assistant recreation professor and the faculty supervisor for the event. Only 15 boats participated this year, compared to the previous low of 53.

Every year, the students in Recreation 306 organize, host and find sponsors for the tournament, Dilliha said. The proceeds go to a charity chosen by each class, and this year it was Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Each boat contained either a single fisherman or a pair working together, but flooding makes fishing more difficult and changes the landscape of the lake drastically, Smith said.

Nolin Lake was 549.5 feet high at the tournament, and the water was still rising, he said. After the tournament, the lake surpassed its record high of 549.9 feet.

“Fishermen who have fished this lake before told me they got lost,” Smith said.

Even with the high water level, it was still a good experience for the students to have to adapt to changing situations, he said.

“The college experience shouldn’t be just all lectures and straight from the book,” he said. “We need to apply some of what we learn.”

Each hour, the top three heaviest fish won prize money, and $500 went to the fisherman with the largest fish of the day, Dilliha said.

More than $11,000 of products and money were raised through sponsorships, Dilliha said. Some of that was used for prizes, but the rest went to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Today has definitely proven when you come together, hard work does pay off,” Dilliha said. “Without everyone, today wouldn’t have happened.”

Madisonville sophomore Elaina Campbell, who recorded the weight of fish as they were caught, said it was a very satisfying experience getting to work together to organize an event and seeing it come together.

“And the relationships you make with the things you go through and the people you get to know,” she said.

Smith said the unique nature of the course is always worth it for them in the end.

“I challenge any college in the eastern United States to show me a program like this one,” Smith said. “Where a class comes together in January and three months later put on an event.”