SEPT. 5 SPORTS COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
Marcus Prull was a four-sport athlete at Monticello High School.
“I’m a really competitive person,” he said.
The sport he was most passionate about, however, was fishing.
So when he decided to attend the University of Dubuque, realizing that the school didn’t have any sort of fishing club, he started one.
Prull then enlisted other fishing buddies from UD to join as well.
“We just wanted to get outside and go fishing,” Prull said. “I am a really big tournament angler, and I wanted to continue that in college, so I started a club that enabled us to do that.”
The University of Dubuque fishing club was born, and began competing against collegiate teams from other schools in the Midwest.
This past season, the club was able to compete in all four of the Midwest bass tournaments sponsored by National Guard FLW College Fishing Series.
The tournaments were held in Missouri in March, Kentucky in May, eastern Illinois in June, and the final tournament was July 28 in LaCrosse, Wis.
The Dubuque club is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a little fish in a big pond, competing against such schools as Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana.
Despite that, UD’s two-man team, consisting of Prull and Jarett Svihilik, finished 13th among 41 boats in La Crosse.
“It’s pretty competitive,” he said.
There is plenty of incentive. The top five teams at each tournament advance to regionals, and the top five there will qualify for nationals and a shot at $250,000.
”We have big goals,” Prull said.
The club is also beginning to get sponsorship help. Two companies have signed on: Abu Garcia and Pflueger.
Tournament organizers provide the boats and the boat drivers. Companies also help with travel allowances, since this year’s tournaments were in Kentucky, Missouri, eastern Illinois and Wisconsin.
”We just go out and use the trolling motors and fish,” Prull said.
Anglers fish for five or six hours, and the top five fish are weighed in. That total is used to determine placings.
Prull is president of the UD club. He gets help from Gen Zirkelbach, another MHS graduate and UD student, who has been his girlfriend for 3 1/2 years. Zirkelbach serves as the club’s secretary.
“I’m on the organizing side of it, creating posters, managing the Facebook page, and keeping him on track,” Zirkelbach said.
The club has 15 members, and stays active even when the competitive season is over.
“We’re looking to get the whole campus involved in fishing,” Prull said. “We’ll have some fish frys and have some club tournaments just for fun.
“We’ll have some kids’ fishing days in the spring, and do some stuff for the community in Dubuque. We also do a lot of conservation efforts in Dubuque to help the local fisheries there.”
Prull has always had fun fishing. He grew up fishing at Central Park, and has been tournament fishing since he was 10.
When he was 17, he came within two ounces of advancing to a junior national tournament.
He didn’t have any monstrous catches during the competitive collegiate season. But in April, Prull pulled a 6-pound, 13-ounce bass out of Bergfeld Pond in Dubuque.
Now 21, Prull is a senior at UD, majoring in environmental science. Zirkelbach, 20, is a junior majoring in psychology.