Red brick walls festooned with ivy, plaid-wearing intellects hustling to class and secret societies catering to America’s elite are usually the first thoughts that come to mind when Harvard University is mentioned.
Bass fishing? That usually isn’t associated with the prestigious institution.
But two Harvard students are hoping to change that one big fish at a time.
Manny Cominsky from Utica, NY and Jake Boy from Boyers, PA started a fishing club at Harvard in January after reading about the team from Louisiana State University fishing in a college tournament.
“I was surfing the web and came across the LSU team,” Cominsky said. “It just seemed cool. I grew up fishing in a camp in the Adirondacks. Fishing is definitely popular in the Northeast.”
Cominsky, a sophomore History major, said he pitched the idea of a fishing club to Harvard administers in December and the club was approved on Jan. 15. He said they have been well received by students and administers and hope to have about 30 members by the end of the semester.
After researching several collegiate fishing series, the pair decided to fish the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship because it was free and the schedule worked for them. The pair traveled to Texas and fished their first collegiate tournament on Lake Lavon in March at the Cabela’s Big Bass Bash.
“I’ve been fishing for as long as I can remember,” Boy said. “Manny and I met through the Harvard football team and he decided which tour to go fish. The Texas tournament was a great opportunity to get our feet wet.”
Boy cut his teeth fishing trout streams in Pennsylvania and catfishing lakes and rivers around his home. It was the first time bass fishing anywhere in the South for the duo, who said the tournament started off rough, but ended on a high note.
“We caught five the first day but only one was a keeper,” Cominsky said. “It weighed 1.67 pounds. We were pretty disappointed and just kept thinking how we could improve. Harvard has an academic image and after day one, we thought we were playing right into that stereotype.
“We went out Saturday to prove some people wrong.
Cominsky said Boy, a sophomore majoring in Biology, was the fishing tactician of the group and decided to switch patterns for the second day of the tournament.
“We fished too slow the first day,” Boy said. “We stayed on the same pattern too long and didn’t switch it up. On the second day, we went to a crankbait and fished faster. We also threw different things. We knew the bass were there; it was just a matter of presenting them with something they liked.
“The crankbait started working, especially in perch color.”
The duo placed in the second day of the tournament, taking second place in the first session with Cominsky’s 3.77-pound fish.
The duo said there are big differences fishing southern waters as opposed to their home waters in the north.
“I’ve never fished the south,” Boy said. “It is a lot different than up north. Other anglers told us the fish bite better when the sun comes out, which is the opposite of up here. We catch them on cloudy, cool days with a decent wind.
“It was a little bit of an adjustment.”
What is next for the duo?
“We have a spring break trip planned and hopefully fish more tournaments,” Cominsky said.