Earn Your Wings Program

Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program

Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program

The Fenwick “Earn Your Wings” program was started in 2013 to help support collegiate anglers and grow their passion for fishing and the fishing industry. “Earn Your Wings” team members are hand selected each year from hundreds of applicants based on their personal goals, GPA, and fishing experience and passion. These team members help with field testing the next generation of Fenwick rods and their ideas and feedback are incorporated into the overall product development process. Each year one angler is selected for a summer internship at the Fenwick headquarters to learn product development, a little rod engineering, and marketing.

Please browse through and check out some of the great photos and tips brought to you from our collegiate pro staff.

Participant Bios

Matthew Mattingly

I am a graduating Senior at Lindsey Wilson College. I am a double major in Psychology and Psychophysiology and the president of the Lindsey Wilson Bass Team. I am from Gravel Switch, Kentucky where we have four stops signs, a post office and general store. I grew up fishing the Rolling Fork River and started fishing local tournaments when I was ten. I have competed all over the place with one of my highlights being, at age 16 finishing 3rd at the Bass Club World Championship on Ft. Gibson Lake in Oklahoma. Currently I fish FLW College Series Central Division, BFL Music City Tour and a host of local events. I have future plans of taking fishing as far as I can and working in the industry.

Byron Keith Kenney

I am a senior at the University of Georgia, I am majoring in Agricultural Business, and I am President of the UGA Bass Anglers. I have been President for three years now and I have really enjoyed my experience. I have been fishing since I could walk and most of my childhood fishing took place on Lake Jackson, but I would consider Lake Lanier my home lake. I have been very fortunate in years past and I hope to finish my college fishing career with a National Title!

Robert Seise

My name is Robert Seise and I am a senior at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. I am majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics and a member of my university's bass fishing team. This is my first year with the Earn Your Wings program but it has been one awesome ride. The program has provided me with a glimpse of how the business side of the fishing industry works and being able to work along side companies like Fenwick and Pflueger has been an extremely exciting experience.

Patrick Bowers

I am currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse where I am majoring in Accountancy. I serve as the treasurer for the Bass Fishing Team here at UWL. I was born in New York, but grew up in Hudson, WI near the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are my favorite species to target, but I also love going after the elusive Muskie. One of my favorite bass techniques is swimming a jig, and my go-to rod for that is the Fenwick HMG 7’ Medium Heavy.

Bill Gilbert

I am a senior at Elon University where I am majoring in Public Health Studies. This is my second year participating in the Fenwick Earn Your Wings program. In January 2012, I founded the Elon University Bass Fishing Team and am currently the president of our team. I qualified for the Bassmaster College Series National Championship in our first year of competition. Growing up in Dorset, Vermont, I frequently fished Lake Champlain and got addicted to tournament bass fishing. I have also qualified for the FLW College Fishing Southeast Invitational and the Bassmaster Weekend Series Divisional Championship. Throughout my competitive career I have 10 top 10 finishes.

Matt Beeler

I am a senior at the University of Tennessee, majoring in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. I have fished for the Tennessee Bass Team for the past 3 years with placing in the College BASS events and Cabela’s Boat US tournaments. This year I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the Fenwick Earn Your Wings program. Overall I fish anywhere from 80-100 times a year with 40-50 being tournaments ranging from college events, BFL’s, team trails, benefit tournaments, and local wildcats. I caught my best single day tournament bag of fish during this year’s Cabela’s Boat US Open on Chickamauga weighing in at 20.66 lbs. My favorite bait to catch bass on is a pop-r, but my go to bait in tournaments is a finesse worm.

Justin Telep

I am a Junior at Ohio University studying freshwater and environmental biology. My passion is steelhead trout fishing along rivers on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Here I have won two tournaments in the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders Club, one of which that I had two steelhead that measured 64.25 inches long total. Over the past few years, tournament bass fishing has really grown on me as I advanced to the regional championship of the FLW collegiate fishing series. I fish a lot of local tournaments in the Northeast Ohio Area and am going to be running an Ohio College Bass Fishing Circuit this summer.

Tyler Zimmerman

I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, majoring in Supply chain management, and the president of the UWW fishing team on campus. I was born and raised in northern IL, where I found a love for fishing in the southeast Wisconsin. I have been fishing competitively since I was sixteen competing in various Angler choice tournaments. I am currently competing in the collegiate FLW, Boat U.S., and BASS tournaments. My biggest tournament bag is 23lbs, with a kicker fish of 6.76-pound smallmouth. This is my first year in the Earn your wings program, and I hope to pursue my passion for the fishing industry for many years to come.

Scott Davis

I am a senior at the University of Louisville, pursuing a degree in Marketing, and I am the president of the University’s bass fishing team. I was born and raised in Kentucky where I developed my lifelong passion for fishing. Growing up all I ever wanted to do was fish, and as I got older my passion continued to grow. I started fishing tournaments once I was old enough to drive, and when I started college joining the fishing team was a dream come true. While on the team I have been fortunate enough to fish with some great friends all over the country on some of the best fisheries in the world. I have spent the last two years as a member of the “Earn Your Wings” program, which has allowed me the opportunity to not only grow as an angler, but as an industry professional.

Eric Bykowsky

I'm a sophomore business major at Carnegie Mellon University and president of the CMU Fishing Team. I've fished my entire life growing up in SC, and became an avid bass angler once I started college. I have competed in several tournaments in my career as a college angler, and qualified for the FLW Regional Championship this past fall on the Chesapeake Bay. 2014 marks my second year as a Fenwick college angler, and this past summer I was fortunate enough to win an incredible internship with Fenwick through the Earn Your Wings Program.

Tony Mehrl

I am a senior at the University of Iowa double majoring in Finance and Marketing, and this is my second year as a part of the Earn Your Wings program. I have been a competitor on the Bass Fishing Team for each of the four years I have been at the University of Iowa, competing in many collegiate level tournaments throughout the year in each of the three major collegiate bass fishing organizations. I learned to fish in the ponds and lakes of Eastern Iowa as I was born and raised here, but my true passion for fishing was sparked during my many trips to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. My three favorite fishing techniques are throwing a jerkbait, deep crankbait, and a hollow-bodied frog.

Wade Brown

I am a Junior at the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. I am majoring in Industrial Engineering and I am the Vice President of the Louisville Bass Fishing Team. I was born and raised in Southern Indiana. However, it was my summer home on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, KY where I began to develop my ever increasing passion for fishing alongside my Father. This passion is something that has been with me since my very first fish catch. It is a passion that continues to grow each and every day as I continue to learn more about fishing, and as I continue to create new friendships along the way. The biggest bass I have caught to date weighed just over 7 pounds. I have participated in collegiate tournaments all across the country. From Table Rock Lake in Missouri to Lake Norman in North Carolina, from Carlyle Lake in Illinois to Pickwick Lake in Alabama, traveling the country with your teammates and fellow fishermen is the best part of any collegiate fishing tournament.