by Thomas Bzura
One thing about Florida, the sunshine state, that other state envies is our exceptional weather year round. Avoiding the sleet and snow means that students at UCF can take advantage of many outdoor activities that other colleges might not be able to offer. One of the lesser known clubs, the UCF Reel Knights, has seized the opportunity at hand and come together to form this club centered around one of America’s favorite outdoor pastimes: fishing.
The Reel Knights were established in 2006 and have really started pushing a wake on campus and in the fishing community. The club has exceeded over 100 members and caught the eye of several reputable sponsors like Costa del Mar, Guy Harvey, and Shimano. “We’re pleased with the interest that people have taken in the club this year. The turnout at our first meeting was a lot bigger than we anticipated. We hope to keep making gains like this each semester” said Club President Ryan Hullihan.
Each member brings their knowledge of fishing and every sponsor offers something specific to the club, because of this the Reel Knights offer several exciting fishing opportunities that perhaps were farfetched in the recent years. Besides getting together to fish on the weekends, the club hosts an inshore tournament and a bankhopper bass tournament every semester. The sport of fishing is no stranger to the thrill of competition. These tournaments are a platform for the members to go head to head in hopes of winning cash payouts and prizes at the weigh in ceremony. Along with furthering member’s involvement on campus the club aims to further their fishing knowledge and skills. Throughout the school year, all club members are invited to attend angler workshops in the Orlando area. These workshops have helped the Reel Knights become better fishermen and have allowed for members to meet with leaders in the industry and network with them.
A lot of fishing clubs host tournaments for their members, but it’s where you fish and what you catch that makes one different from another. The Reel Knights inshore tournament is held in Titusville, on Mosquito Lagoon, some 40 minutes east of campus. Some of the fish that members have been known to catch out on the lagoon are tarpon, snook, and black drum, but primarily target spotted sea-trout and the club favorite redfish. What makes the Reel Knights unique is the fishing that central Florida has to offer. East central Florida has “the best redfishing in the state” says club Vice President, Eddie Twyford. It’s hard to argue facts seeing how the Florida state record redfish was caught on Mosquito Lagoon this year in January. Fishermen agree where you’re fishing inevitably determines the success of the day. It is fortunate for the UCF Reel Knights to have exceptional fishing relatively close to campus.
The Reel Knights have created a social environment within the club showing true depth offering more to students than just opportunities to fish with fellow anglers. Entering college one of the biggest pieces of advice given to students is “get involved.” Like most clubs, the Reel Knights have proven to be a pleasant addition to the college experience and has furthered student’s involvement with its social aspect. I asked club treasurer Jeff Dubbs, “Besides fishing, what is the next best thing about the Reel Knights?” Dubbs responded in saying, “Definitely the free stuff from our sponsors, everyone loves free stuff. After that I’d say that our tailgates are what a lot of members really like.” Indeed the clubs presence on campus is most noticeable during football season on home games. Each home game look down Memory Mall and you’ll be sure to see a number of Reel Knights at their tailgate.
UCF offers students so many different ways to get involved. If fishing is something you enjoy the Reel Knights are definitely worth checking out. Clubs like this are one of the many hidden gems found at the University of Central Florida. For information about joining the club check out the “Reel Knights at UCF” Facebook group or email them at [email protected]