Journey to success: freshman Ryan Seitz fishes among top competition


Photo by Mark Seitz

Freshman Ryan Seitz fishing on Carroll County One Thousand Acre Recreational Lake during last week’s tournament on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. Seitz would finish 6th of 62 boats.

     For many, getting up at 2 a.m. to drive to another state and fish for eight hours with no breaks sounds exhausting and miserable; for freshman Ryan Seitz, it is a dream come true. Seitz has been fishing since he was 6 years old and, although his first fishing trip was just to the local pond, he was immediately hooked on the sport.

     “I went with my mom, my dad and my uncle. At the time I was using really little stuff, things that weren’t the best quality. I was using worms and fishing for bluegill,” Seitz said. “Once I caught my first bass I was immediately hooked.”

     Since then, Seitz has accumulated countless hours on the water, attempting to gather as much knowledge about the sport as possible.

     “The thing about fishing is that it takes a lot of practice and learning. You’re always learning something new every day you’re out on the water,” Seitz said. “It was a big learning curve.”

Freshman Ryan Seitz prepares to cast his line during the Bassmaster Junior National Championship in Huntington, Tennessee from Oct. 9 to Oct. 10.

     One of the most challenging skills for Seitz to learn was how the conditions of the day impacted how the fish would behave. One of the most challenging aspects of fishing is the fact that some elements are out of the fisherman’s control, Seitz said.

     “How the wind behaved, whether it would be blowing from the north or the south would change a lot. It could affect where the bait fish move to, or if it goes from stormy to sunny or overcast to bright, bluebird skies that could change it too,” Seitz said. “It tells me a lot about how the fish will be set up, where they’ll be set up and which direction [they will be set up]. If it’s really clear with no clouds in the sky, they’ll be roaming around, but if it’s overcast then they’ll be huddled up together pushing bait fish into the backs of creeks.”

     All of these skills are necessary for Seitz to utilize when he competes in tournaments, something that he first did when he was 8 years old. When his mother, Angela Seitz saw the passion Seitz had for the sport, she knew she had to get him involved in some way, but did not immediately recognize how.

     “We started looking into what there was to do for him for fishing,” Angela Seitz said. “You can look at playing at Indy Premier for soccer, which Ryan did, but what is there out there that I can get him in for him to be able to fish? If he wants to fish, what else is there to do other than going to the pond if he didn’t have a boat at the time? And that’s when I started researching and finding out that there were these youth programs for kids. So that was great, then I started digging around and reaching out to all these people to say ‘hey, how do I get my son involved in this?’ and ‘How do I do this?’ Those people told me what to do and that’s exactly what I did.”

     Despite being young, Ryan Seitz was eager to join the group. The drive and love for fishing that he displayed was mirrored by the mentors of the organization, his mother said, allowing him to learn from those with much more experience than him. The excitement of the mentors also aided in Ryan Seitz’s interest.

     “They all really love it and they see this [the organization] as being the future of the sport, so they’re willing to help him out, teach him, mentor him, coach him and do all these things,” Angela Seitz said. “And that’s really just people in the fishing community being willing to say ‘Let me take your son out and I’m going to teach him a few things’ or ‘Hey, I’ll boat captain him for this particular competition.’”

     One of the biggest developments that Angela Seitz has noticed in her son is a boost in confidence from his first tournaments. That boost has propelled Ryan Seitz to a very competitive level of tournament fishing. Last weekend, Ryan Seitz competed in the Bassmaster Junior National Championship at Carroll County One Thousand Acre Recreational Lake in Huntington, Tennessee.

     “Especially in this past tournament, the confidence was a little bit off at first since it was his first big championship,” Angela Seitz said. “The conditions were not the same as what he practiced. To rally back with confidence that he knew what to do shows big growth. You start to learn the sport and you get more confident, and obviously when you’re confident you do a better job.”

Freshman Ryan Seitz poses with a bass he caught in Geist Reservoir. Angela Seitz, his mother, said he fishes the lake nearly every Tuesday from March to October. (Photo by Angela Seitz)

     This confidence allowed Ryan Seitz and his partner, 8th grader Wes Warnock of Speedway, to finish in 6th place overall.

     “The only thing that I wish we did differently was on the first day,” Ryan Seitz said. “We had two fish, and if we would have had even just one more fish we would’ve had maybe a top five finish.”

     Despite not finishing in the top five, Ryan Seitz said he was incredibly proud of the finish. His recent success has him excited about his future, as he plans to fish at a collegiate level or higher, if possible. 

     “I’m thinking about going to Adrian up in Michigan,” Ryan Seitz said. “This month one of their teams finished first in the college championship.”

     Although Ryan Seitz has an intense passion for his sport, some do not view fishing as a sport in the traditional sense. While this can become annoying for him, Ryan Seitz knows the effort he has put in and believes that fishing is one of the most underlooked sports.

     “It’s different,” Ryan Seitz said. “It’s not like playing football or basketball. It’s a sport that a lot of people don’t consider a sport, but once you start to learn the basics of it you realize that it is a sport and that it’s a lot more difficult than basketball, say. It’s probably the most difficult sport to learn just because you’re learning new things every single day.”