If you are looking to join an exciting organization on campus, look no further! Whether you love the outdoors or just having a great time with friends, Reel Knights is the club to be with.
The Reel Knights fishing club has made many accomplishments in their short, yet explosive, existence. Since their inception in 2006, they have become national champions in collegiate bass fishing, as well as one of UCF’s premier clubs. With 50 members (including lady anglers), a talented fishing team, and multiple events, the Reel Knights will only continue to grow.
“We have been successful in the college fishing scene for the past four years,” states Austin Bayoumi, Reel Knights president and soon-to-be graduate. Within the club is the smaller bass fishing team, comprised of members who must tryout every fall. This team tours the nation to compete in collegiate fishing tournaments. Their most coveted achievement is their 2011 national victory in the BoatUS Championship.
“On the FLW College Fishing side of the game, we have placed top five in several qualifiers and have sent teams to regionals three out of the four years of the circuit's existence, including a team this year,” says Austin, recounting their success. “We have also qualified for two of the three national championships put on in this young tour's lifetime.”
Miles Burghoff and Casey O’Donnell
The saying “Work like a captain, play like a pirate” holds true for this club. Aside from their bass team, the Reel Knights are known for their lively events – on and off the water. They host tailgates, bank-hopper tournaments, BBQs, lake days, boat factory tours, bowling nights, and much more. One of their annual (and well-known) traditions is the Super Bowl party at their lake house. They also attend the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (iCAST), the world’s largest sportfishing show, every year. Another perk, members are able to rent kayaks for free to take out to Mosquito Lagoon, local ponds or even back to their hometowns.
“We also try to give back to the community by volunteering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Coastal Angler Magazine for Hook Kids on Fishing events,” says Austin.
Reel Knights member, Loren Smith, volunteering with Hook Kids on Fishing.
“Reel Knights has been one of my best college experiences!” states the bittersweet president. “I’ll be sad to leave, but I definitely urge others to get involved as early as possible.”
Chad Cook has recently been elected as the president for next year. “I am really excited to be the new president,” he exclaims. “I have been an officer for the last two years and am glad to finally take over. I have many great ideas and I’m excited with the direction our club is heading in. I plan on taking it to the next level.”
These changes include larger social events, more guest speakers and new club apparel. There is also going to be an all new Reel Knights tank top made exclusively for girls, who will be able to join the club at half the entry-fee.
Girls Fish Too!
Fishing is often stereotyped as a “men’s sport.” However, as women become more prominent in the fishing world, they are changing the game. A few ladies of the Reel Knights explain their experiences and encourage other women to join.
Loren Smith, Hannah Cotterill, Kara Bottomley
What type of fishing do you do?
Loren - I enjoy any type of saltwater fishing, with tarpon being my favorite. When I go home, we target snook, redfish and trout, but occasionally go offshore for grouper. I was recently down in Key West fishing for dolphin and I have a little spark in my eye for that now.
Hannah - I grew up bass fishing. Living in Lakeland, well, we have a lot of lakes, so it's ideal.
Kara - I mostly do offshore fishing, but my family is into lobstering, scalloping, and crabbing as well. My favorites are grouper and dolphin though!
Why did you join the Reel Knights?
Loren - I joined as a way to meet new people with similar interests as mine. Growing up around fishing made the decision of choosing this club an easy one.
Hannah - I was introduced through a couple of mutual friends. They are such an awesome group of people to be around, and everyone has so much experience and tips to share with each other. Many of these members have become some of my very close friends!
Kara - I joined as a way to have friends in a different group with different interests. Also, to hear about other types of fishing that I hadn’t experienced before.
What has been your favorite part about the club?
Loren - My favorite part has been the social events and also my trip to Las Vegas to attend iCAST. We always have fun times when we all get together, but Vegas was a trip of a lifetime. We met anglers from all over the country and got to see the newest and best equipment available.
Hannah - My favorite part is all of our fun BBQs and Lake Days! Our Bass Team is also a great aspect of the club. They have created a competitive name for UCF in the college tournament series.
Kara - I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many new people. I definitely had the most fun doing the bank hopper with Loren as “Team Hookers.” I had never tried bass fishing before or fishing in a lake, so it was a great experience!
What do you think of women in the fishing industry?
Loren - We know what we are doing and can handle our own. Often times we are dismissed because we are women, and that’s not okay. Women can fish just as well as men and we can have a great time doing it! Besides, everyone loves a girl who fishes.
Hannah - Primarily surrounded by men, women can bring an edge to the fishing industry. It's encouraging to see women who grew up with the same passion making a living out of fishing.
Kara - I honestly don’t think there are many women in the industry independently. I personally enjoy my dad taking care of things and teaching me; I wouldn’t know the things I do without him.
Would you recommend other women to join the Reel Knights?
Loren - Yes! We always have fun and you can learn a lot about multiple types of fishing. I’ve learned various techniques for catching bass, cobia, redfish and tarpon. If you are serious about fishing or just like to hang out with people who have a good time, Reel Knights is the club to join.
Hannah - I would definitely recommend other women to join! If you grew up fishing but don't have many friends who have the same hobbies here at UCF, by joining Reel Knights, you’re surrounded by people who do!
Kara - I think Reel Knights is a great way to prove to the boys that you can do it too. Loren and I had little/no experience bass fishing, and we managed to catch some on our own at the bank-hopper tournament. It’s really cool to be able to use some of the tips you’ve learned on your own!
Whether you are a boy or a girl, an experienced angler or are just starting out, be sure to get hooked up - reel fishing, reel fun, Reel Knights.