Fish Tales: This Hornet Has Some Genuine Whoppers

Tucker Rigney with a teammate at a bass fishing competition

Tucker Rigney (right) at a bass fishing competition

Ask any college graduate and they will tell you their time in school was the basis for countless tales of fun, adventure and, yes, late night study sessions.

Tucker Rigney ’17 is busy crafting some stories of his own – fish stories, to be exact. But he can back up his bluster with results, and in the process, is giving Kalamazoo College a good name in the world of competitive college fishing.

A rising sophomore at K, Tucker recently finished in third place in the Michigan College Bass Circuit (MCBC), a summer-long series of bass fishing contests between small colleges and large universities in Michigan at lakes throughout the state. He and his fishing partner Cameron Hasen, a Kellogg Community College student, finished third in the MCBC’s two-day, season-ending tournament.

Earlier in the season, the pair took first place in the individual boat competition at a tournament in Haslett. The pair barely eked out the top spot, besting a duo from Ferris State University by about a third of a pound. Seven Michigan schools participated in the event, where a team’s total haul was weighed to determine a winner.

Tucker grew up an outdoorsman, he says, raised in a rural home near Gobles, about 25 miles northwest of Kalamazoo. His father taught him and his brother to fish on a small lake about 15 minutes from their house. The siblings would also bike down to their grandparents’ home and fish for bluegills in a nearby creek.

His largest bass? A not-too-shabby 22-inch, five-pound largemouth.

“It can be how I get away from things and just relax, or a challenge where I am trying to get on some big fish and win a tournament,” he says of fishing. “It’s what I want it to be. It has been a blast, fishing in these tournaments is such a rush.”

He got involved in the collegiate competition after his dad walked past a MCBC booth at an outdoor show in Grand Rapids. Rigney jumped at the opportunity to get involved, he says. The avid hunter and former Hornet baseball player also hopes to organize a fishing club on campus.

He thinks the club will take off, but stresses that competitive fishing is not your lazy, drop-a-line-and-hope-for-the-best kind of day out.

“I know students at K that fish, but I do not know of anyone that fishes competitively. There is a big difference between the two,” he says.

That’s true. Rigney knows the fickleness of fishing. At an earlier tournament at Hardy Dam Pond, near Newaygo, he and Cameron took seventh place out of 18 teams, only weighing three fish.

“We were ‘slaying’ them the days before. So that was a little disappointing,” he says.

Rigney says he’s hunted and fished in several states and Canada, hauling in his largest ever fish (he thinks it was a halibut) on a family vacation in Alaska.

Maybe it’s no surprise that the passionate outdoorsman plans to study biology at K.

“Biology is challenging, but it is also very interesting to me,” he says. “I guess that interest, in a way, comes from my love for the outdoors.”