Earn Your Wings Program

Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program

Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program

Participant Bios

Isaac Bailey

I am a junior at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and am pursuing a degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology. I am the secretary of the Ohio University Anglers Organization. This is my first year working with the Earn Your Wings program.  I was introduced to fishing pretty much as soon as I learned to walk, and my passion is wading the beautiful rivers of southern Ohio for smallmouth bass. Fishing is my favorite pastime, and what I hope to gain from the sport are the memorable times I get to have introducing others to fishing. After I graduate, I hope to pursue a career with the EPA in freshwater ecology in my home state. 

Derek Balazy

I am a junior attending The University of South Florida, pursuing a Biomedical Science degree. After, I plan on attending pharmacy school to become a pharmacist. I am on the University of South Florida fishing team and I participate in the different kayak fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the IFA redfish tournament series. I have been fishing since I was around 7 years old primarily fishing freshwater, and in the last few years I have been transferring into saltwater, fishing the greatly known Tampa Bay flats. I love fishing in the Tampa Bay because you never know what you will run into. It could be anything from tailing redfish, tarpon rolling, or even schools of snook busting on bait. This is my first year with the Earn Your wings program and I am ecstatic to be working with an awesome team. Although I plan on becoming a pharmacist one day, I would love become a professional angler living the dream. 

Brian Bueker

I am a senior at Missouri State University (MSU) graduating in December 2016 with a degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management with an Agronomy minor. Upon graduation I will begin pursuing a masters degree in environmental studies and administration at MSU. I have been an active member of the MSU Fishing Team for the past three years. I am also the Secretary of our College American Fisheries Society which is active in fisheries management and conservation. This is my second year with the Earn Your Wings program, and I feel honored to be able to represent Fenwick and the entire family of Pure Fishing brands. Coming from an outdoors family, fishing became second nature at a young age. I grew up fishing for anything that would bite with my family, and around the age of twelve I became obsessed with bass fishing. This obsession lead me to the MSU Fishing Team where I compete on the FLW College Fishing, ACA, and BASS College Series, as well as local tournament ciruits. My favorite type of fishing is power fishing chatterbaits and spinnerbaits for largemouth. For me fishing provides an escape from the stress and worries of life, as well as many family bonding memories that I will never forget. I plan to pursue a career in the field of fisheries management to try to give back to a place that has given me countless memories, while continuing to fish tournaments and be involved in the fishing industry. I want there to always be opportunities for future generations to enjoy our natural resources as much as I have.

Graham Burke

My name is Graham Burke, and I am a senior at Kenan Flagler Business School of UNC Chapel Hill where I am studying business with an emphasis in marketing management. When I started school at UNC, there was no fishing team at all. During the past 3 years, I have helped start a team from the ground up while serving as Treasurer and now as President. Collegiate fishing has been the highlight of my college experience. The opportunity to meet new people, travel, and compete at a high level is unmatched anywhere else. However, as a college student, it can be time consuming and expensive. I have been blessed with support from family, friends, and relationships with companies like Fenwick and Pflueger that make college fishing possible. I am excited to enter my second year with the Earn Your Wings program. For me, fishing is an addiction. Some of my best memories in life involve a rod and reel in my hand.  I grew up fishing ponds everyday with my older brother, and I have become hooked on competitive bass fishing since high school. It is a great way to challenge yourself, meet amazing people, and have a great time. I hope to continue fishing competitively after graduation while pursuing a job in the fishing industry.

Trevor Burnette

My name is Trevor Burnette, and I am a senior at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga where I am majoring in criminal justice. I completed an associate’s degree in criminal justice at Asheville Buncombe Technical College located in Asheville, North Carolina. I have been a member of the University of Tennessee of Chattanooga bass fishing team for three years, helped start the first fly fishing club at UTC, and have created and run the Facebook page for this club. This is my second year on the Fenwick Earn Your Wings team. Winning the 2016 internship was an amazing opportunity that I learned a lot from, and I look forward to another awesome season with Fenwick and Pflueger. I also fish kayak tournaments, and I have finished in the top ten in several tournaments both from a boat and kayak on the collegiate and local levels. My two main passions are fishing and photography/filming. My goals are to fish the BASS Master Opens after graduating college and try to qualify for the elite series, as well as owning my own photography/production company. My favorite technique when fishing for bass is throwing fast moving baits, such as chatter baits, crank baits, and also top water baits. I am also an avid fly fisherman and target everything from trout to bass on the fly. I am very excited to be part of this amazing program and look forward to another awesome season using some amazing products from Fenwick and Pflueger. I cannot thank Fenwick and Pflueger enough.

Dante DeAngelo

My name is Dante DeAngelo, I am a junior at King’s College graduating in May 2018 with a degree in Environmental Studies, and a minor in geology. This is my first year with the Earn Your Wings Program, and I am extremely thankful to have been chosen for this great opportunity. I am a self-taught fisherman. My first fishing pole was a vintage Fenwick rod that I had bought with my own money at a local flee market. I love to fish for carp, bass, and trout. My favorite type of fishing is fly fishing; a technique I had taught myself in my early teens through Fenwick Fly Rod reviews and tutorials on the internet. Fly fishing has become one of my most passionate hobbies. Every day I walk out the door, Fenwick rod in hand; hoping to gain technique, style, and expertise to pass on to future anglers. I hope after college to work for the Department of Environmental Protection, or the Fish and Game Commission of Pennsylvania. I truly believe that to pass on my love of fishing, we must conserve and maintain our lands so that there will be adequate fishing grounds, fertile and clean waters, and healthy fish to catch for years to come.

Michael Dircz

I’m a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the president of the Wisconsin Fishing Team. I will be graduating in the spring of 2017 with degrees in marketing and management. I discovered my passion for fishing at the age of 12, when I caught my first musky from a dock in Hayward, Wisconsin. In that adrenaline-pumping moment, I became obsessed with catching more and bigger musky. Now, nine years later, I have spent the majority of my fishing career chasing musky from Lake Minnetonka to Lake of the Woods. My interest in musky fishing led me to work as a marketing intern for a well-known musky tackle shop in state. Ironically, many of the employees there are highly successful tournament bass anglers, and they really inspired me to try my skills in the bass tournament scene. I began fishing bass tournaments last summer, traveling most recently to Lake Barkley and the Mississippi River for FLW college tournaments, and I am dead set on qualifying for the FLW National Championship next season. 2017 is my first year as a member of the Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program.

Grant Ehlenfeldt

I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin Platteville, where I am majoring in mechanical engineering. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and have been blessed to have access to so many different varieties of fishing, whether it is fishing from shore, a boat, or through the ice. My passion for fishing started at a very young age when my dad and grandpa taught me everything they knew about fishing. I went through a couple different phases of fishing but finally settled on bass fishing when I joined the local junior bass club. From then on I was hooked on tournament bass fishing and it became my goal to succeed in the bass fishing industry. During my senior year of high school I created the first high school bass fishing team my school had seen, and we were fortunate enough to compete in nationals that year. After high school I advanced to college where I continued my passion for fishing and joined the University of Wisconsin Platteville bass fishing club. I compete in tournaments for the club, FLW, Cabela’s, and BASS. Over the summer after my freshman year of college I was able to qualify for the 2015 BASS National Championship as well as the 2016 FLW National Championship. This year I was fortunate enough to qualify for the FLW National Championship that takes place during the spring of 2017. This is my second year on the Fenwick Earn Your Wings Program, and I am very thankful they have provided me with such a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and passion for fishing.

Briana Gagnier

My name is Briana Gagnier and I am a senior at the University of South Florida, graduating in May 2017 with a degree in Marketing. This my third year with the Earn Your Wings program and it is one of the best program’s I have ever been a part of. I grew up in Upstate New York where I began fishing at about four years old. My senior year of high school my family moved to South Florida where saltwater fishing has become my favorite type of fishing. Whether fly or spin fishing, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is captivating as the blue water and sandy beaches provide a picture perfect background, and with all of the different species of fish you have the chance of catching it makes you never want to make your last cast. In the future, I hope my career allows me to market my passion for fishing and various brands, just as the Fenwick Earn Your Wings program has allowed me to do.

Cody Goff

I am a senior at Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas pursuing a bachelor of science in Bible. I started the fishing club at CBC three years ago and have been involved since then. It has been neat to see the opportunities that I have had through our club and competitive fishing, like the Earn Your Wings Program. I have my father to thank for taking me fishing when I was younger. Although I did not start to truly enjoy bass fishing until my later years it has now become a must for me for a weekend getaway. It wasn't until my father's passing 3 years ago that I started competitive bass fishing. Fishing was something that we enjoyed doing together and I carry those memories while on the water. I hope I never loose the thrill that bass fishing gives me and the ambition to try harder when I do not succeed. I look forward to this first time opportunity with the Fenwick Earn Your Wings program and the opportunities that may arise from it.

Wesley Griner

My name is Wesley Griner and I live in Leesburg, Georgia, where there are many lakes and ponds closeby that I frequently fish. The Flint River has some of my favorite honey holes and Lake Eufaula is my favorite lake to fish in my area. I enjoy fishing for multiple types of species such as striper, bass, crappie and catfish, but my favorite species to fish for is bass. Ever since I was young I have always dreamt of becoming a professional bass fisherman. As I watched the FLW and Bassmaster bass tournaments I would say to myself “that will be me one day.” I was the president on my college fishing team at Darton State College. We have fished many tournaments and qualified for the National Championship in Bassmaster and Region Championship in FLW. I finished up my associates in business there summer of 2016. I currently attend the University of Georgia with a major of agribusiness. Upon the completion of my Bachelor’s degree, I plan to start fishing Bassmaster opens in hopes of qualifying for the Elite Series. This is my second year on the Earn Your Wings program and I am very excited to promote Fenwick and Pflueger again this year.

Ethan Hall

My name is Ethan Hall and I am entering my senior year in the Environmental Science program at SUNY ESF located in Syracuse, NY where I anticipate completion of my B.S. degree in May 2017. Our school bass fishing team was founded 4 years ago and I am currently serving as vice president of the team for the second year, and have been fishing competitive bass tournaments for several years prior across western and central New York. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to target world class trout, salmon, panfish, and bass fisheries that are second to none right in my backyard since I started fishing almost 20 years ago. As I progress as a recreational and tournament angler, I would thoroughly enjoy a career in the fishing industry but would be equally satisfied working a position aimed at conserving our natural resources for future generations to come. I am pleased to be back on board with the Earn Your Wings Program for the second year in a row and look forward to the opportunities that this program will have to offer for the 2016-17 season.

Jim Herrero

I am in my final year as a graduate student in pursuit of a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Northern Arizona University. This is my fourth year being involved in the fishing team at NAU, and I have served as team president for two years. I'm proud to say our team has grown into a national caliber team, and we have been a part of a rapid progression of collegiate angling in the western U.S. This is my second year being involved in the Earn Your Wings program, and I am honored to be a part of such an elite group of collegiate anglers. I grew up fishing in Arizona and developed a passion for fishing at a very young age. As I have developed into a more established angler, I have grown to love perfecting techniques as well as developing new ones, but my two favorite techniques are flipping and finesse style fishing. It is my goal to become a successful college angler and develop into a well-rounded and well-respected angler that can be competitive at the professional level. I'd also like to maintain my enjoyment for the sport and actively pass on my enthusiasm for fishing to other aspiring anglers.

John Herrero

I’m John Herrero fishing out of Northern Arizona University for the NAU Bass Jacks. I’m currently pursuing a degree in Economics and Business Management. This is my 4th year in school but due to football I will be staying also for a 5th.I have been the VP of the NAU Bass Jacks for three years now, and the club is growing incredibly. We fish most of the Western Division FLW, BASS tournaments, WWBT, as well as tons of state and local tournaments. This is my first year in the Earn Your Wings Program, and I’m very excited to get involved with this great company and opportunity. I’ve been fishing all my life and it’s been a great joy and experience. The sport is growing so much and the competiveness of the sport really drives me. My favorite type of fishing is run and gun flipping. In Arizona, with this crystal clear water, you only have so long in the shallow water spots before the fish find out you’re there. I hope to get the fun and joy fishing has given me for the rest of my life, as well as pursing a professional career that will also satisfy my competitive journey in the sport.

Jim Kromka

I am currently a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University where I am double majoring in mechanical and biomedical engineering. This is my second year with the CMU Fishing Team and my first as co-vice president. This is also my first year with the Earn Your Wings program, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the team. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember. I enjoy many kinds of fishing, but my favorite are fly fishing for trout, bass fishing from a kayak, and hitting the walleye spawn in the spring. Fishing offers me not only an escape from the stresses of college, but also a time to bond with my family. I am one of eight children, so fishing provides not only something we can all do but also something that we all love. Nothing makes me happier than seeing one of my younger siblings reel in a fish. In college so far, I have introduced numerous friends to fishing, and they definitely got hooked. I hope to continue sharing the sport with others. My career goals are to either go to medical school or get a job in the engineering industry, and my dream job would be to design lures, rods, reels, and other fishing gear.

Baylee Linker

I am a senior at Arkansas Tech University, graduating in May 2017 with a degree in journalism and public relations. Growing up in Russellville, Arkansas I have had the great opportunity to be raised on Lake Dardanelle. When I was little, I followed my step dad’s footsteps in the dream of becoming a great bass fishermen like him. We would go fishing almost every day when school was over and stay till dark.  It became a routine that I still follow to this day: eat, sleep, and go fish. My favorite type of fishing is bass fishing and I love catching big bass on Carolina rigs, footballs jigs, and Texas rigged worms. College fishing was a great opportunity in getting involved with others who have the itching urge to go fishing everyday like I do. This is my fourth year fishing for Arkansas Tech, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Our team is more like a family and that’s my favorite part. Whether team mates have good fishing days or bad, we always have a good time. Going to college was a great way for me to start competing in the fishing industry on a different level. I have fished several major college tournaments, FLW BFL’s, and competed as a co-angler on the FLW Tour.  I would describe myself as a female who has a love for the outdoors that is indescribable. I hope to one day share the love I have for the outdoors with the outdoor industry and people around the world. My career goals would be to one day work with an outdoor/fishing organization in the marketing and public relations department. This is my first year on the Fenwick Earn Your Wings team and I am so excited to be a part of such a great organization. 

Blake McClure

My name is Blake McClure, and I am a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I am a Pre-Chiropractic Exercise and Sports Science major. I am about to begin my second year as the Social Media Chair for the UNC Bass Fishing Team. This is my first year with the Earn Your Wings program and I am excited to see what this year holds. I have been fishing most of my life and still have memories of catching fish with crickets on my Spiderman rod. My favorite style of fishing is flipping jigs into heavy cover and pulling heavy largemouth out. My goals for the future are to establish a successful chiropractic office while tournament fishing in my free time and eventually help introduce the next generation to fishing. 

Zack McGeehan

I am a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, graduating in December 2016 with a degree in business administration. I'm currently the treasurer for the UNCC fishing club and have competed with the team for the past 2 years.  I grew up in a small town called Drums, PA where my girlfriend was actually the first person to introduce me to fishing. Little did she know she was creating an addict! I almost exclusively bass fish and my favorite way to catch them is with a frog. In the future, I plan on competing in as many tournaments as I can including FLW BFL's and BASS Opens. My biggest career goal would be to become a professional angler but I understand that this is easier said then done so I would love to find a career in any part of the business side of fishing. This is the first year I've been involved with the Earn Your Wings program and I am very excited to be a part of the team!

Adam Neu

I am currently a junior at University of Wisconsin Platteville, where I am majoring in Sales and Marketing. I have had the luxury of living next to, in my opinion, two of the best fisheries in America for my whole life: Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and the always consistent Upper Mississippi river system. Growing up only 10 mins away from Sturgeon Bay and having my father fish professionally for walleyes has helped form me into the person I am now. I have a huge passion for the sport of fishing, regardless the species, but bass fishing has always been on the top of my list. My passion for bass fishing and fishing in general was the drive for me to join the UW-PLatteville Bass Fishing Club when I left for college. I have been a member of the club since my freshman year and was lucky enough to represent our club at The B.A.S.S. National championship this year. I am also a returning member of The Earn Your Wings program from my first year in the program back in 2015-2016. I am very grateful of Fenwick for providing the Earn Your WIngs program to college students like myself. This program has given me so many great opportunities to expand my passion of fishing.

Andrew Nickelson

I am a sophomore at Century College in White Bear Lake, MN pursing a degree in law enforcement. I currently am trying to start a fishing team at my school. This is my first year on the Earn Your Wings program. I started fishing at a very young age at my cabin in western Wisconsin, using just a hook and a bobber for pan fish. I have grown as an angler over the years and have learned many things. Even though I spend many hours trolling crawler harnesses or crankbaits, my favorite type of fishing is jigging for walleyes with light tackle. I hope to start competing in the some of the larger tournaments in the next few years, hopefully in the Cabela’s NWT and the AIM Walleye Series. I am currently working for a police department in a suburb of Hennepin County but am hoping to change careers into the fishing industry eventually.

Austin Ocwieja

I am a sophomore at The University at Buffalo in New York, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. I am the founder and president of my school's fishing club which I started in the spring of 2016. I am extremely excited and grateful to be a first-year member of the Earn Your Wings program. I have been fishing for over ten years mostly in the bays of Lake Ontario. Also, I have been taking annual family bass fishing trips to Canada to fish with four generations of family members. While bass fishing is my favorite, I have recently started fly fishing. I am continuously learning how to catch salmon and trout every year in many different New York State tributaries. Of course, fishing is fun for me, but I also love the challenges that come with competition. Because I enjoy bass fishing so much, it was a perfect fit to start a competitive fishing team at my university to allow myself and others with similar interests to be able to compete. Fishing is becoming a larger part of my life, so I spend a great deal of time viewing instructional videos to learn more about the sport. My dream is to one day go saltwater fishing and catch a sailfish. After graduation I hope to land a job in the mechanical engineering field at a large company somewhere close to upstate New York. My plan in the future is to continue my fishing career by sponsoring or participating in fishing tournaments on weekends and other times when my job allows. Someday I aspire to own a business that will give me more flexibility and more free time to fish. My dream is to bass fish professionally and improve and grow the sport.

Connor Ramsdell

I am a senior pursuing an ecology degree at Plattsburgh State University, and will graduate in May 2017. I am the current president of PSU fishing, and this will be my fourth year in this club. I have been a part of the Earn Your Wings program since 2016 and I am so fortunate to be involved for a second year. I have been fishing since I was very young, and look forward to chasing fish for the rest of my life. As a mostly self-taught angler, I have a unique passion for the sport that drives my obsession with largemouth and smallmouth bass. I have been fishing competitively for three years, and hope to purchase my own boat and excel in my local bass fishing circuit in the future. When I’m not bass fishing, I am most likely fly fishing for wild Adirondack trout and Great Lakes steelhead and salmon, ice fishing for panfish, or hunting waterfowl. After graduation, I want to become a restoration ecologist and work to save brook trout streams across the northeast.

Caleb Roberson

My name is Caleb Roberson and I am attending The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. I am currently a senior graduating in May of 2017 with a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Applied Physics. I am President of The Citadel’s Rod and Gun Club for the 2016-2017 school year. This is my first year with the Earn Your Wings Program. I have fished since I was approximately five years old and primarily bass fish. My strengths are Top Water, Spinnerbaits, Floating Worms, Crankbaits, and Shakey Head fishing. Fishing has been a great part of my life since I was of a young age and thoroughly enjoy making new friends, learning everything I can to be a better angler, and teaching others to fish. I enjoy talking with other fisherman and learning new techniques as well as spreading my love for the great outdoors with the future generation of outdoorsmen. Upon graduating in May, I plan on pursuing a career at Duke-Energy’s Oconee Nuclear Station while hopefully working my way up to one day becoming a professional fisherman.

Connor Spading

I’m a junior pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Iowa. This is my first year being involved in the Earn Your Wings program. I was born and raised in Northeast Iowa where I began fishing as soon as I could hold a rod and reel. Growing up I chased walleyes and smallmouth with my dad on the rivers and streams around my house. By the time I was fifteen, no one could get me away from the water. My favorite type of fishing is throwing a jig, whether it’s into a laydown on the lake or an eddy on the river. I love teaching others about fishing, whether that means helping a fellow angler get a little better or showing a newcomer what the sport is all about. The things that make me most excited about being a part of the Earn Your wings program are the opportunities I get to network within the fishing industry and to be involved with a company who is a leader in fishing technology. My goal is to pursue a career in product development, pushing technology forward with innovative designs.

Judson Tharin

Originally from metro Minnesota, I moved up to Bemidji Minnesota to pursue my education as well as to focus and fine tune my passion for angling.  I am currently a sophomore at Bemidji State University, majoring in Mass Communication. Established in 2015, I am the founder and captain of the Bemidji State Collegiate Musky Fishing Team.  This will be my first year participating in the Earn Your Wings Program.  The pursuit to grow and learn the sport of angling is a life long passion of mine. Ideally, Bemidji is surrounded by an innumerable amount of lakes harboring opportunities to catch golden walleye, voracious northern pike, aggressive smallmouth bass, jumbo perch, slab crappie, and bull bluegill, and my favorite species, trophy muskellunge.  I will be completing my education at BSU, then I intend on pursuing an occupation in the outdoor/fishing industry.  Photography and video production are two passions of mine in addition to fishing.  Ideally, I would like to create an outdoor media production company to raise the bar and set the new standard for contemporary fishing media.

James Young

My name is James Young and I currently attend Colorado State University. I am a junior pursuing a bachelors in biochemistry with a concentration on health sciences. I plan on graduating in December of 2017, and this is my first year on the Earn Your Wings program. I have been fishing ever since I can remember, growing up on the lakes and rivers of Texas. I enjoy fly fishing the most, and all I hope to get out of fishing is the enjoyment of being in the great outdoors. I would like to become a physicians assistant and own my own ranch in the northern rockies.

Ryan Zetzsche

My first memories of fishing are probably just like yours, a young boy, his father, some worms you don’t want to touch…yeah, the good times. But I didn’t fall in love with fishing until I was old enough to cherish it, and all the memories it brought me. Although I enjoy fishing in every form, there is something about a clear flowing creek, and a fly rod that just keeps calling me back.  This will be my third year participating in the Earn Your Wings Program, a very generous program that has made an extraordinarily positive impact on my life. I recently graduated from Lone Star College with my Associates degree, and am currently pursuing a Bachelors degree at Sam Houston State University studying Mass Communication in Film. I dream to some day turn my passion for film, photography, and fishing, into a career.