HARRIMAN, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Two UT students are trying to turn their catfishing club into a nationally recognized sport.
Daniel Baldwin and Marc Cooper will typically begin a fishing day before the sun comes up. And they'll be the first to tell you, if you want the reward of catching a river monster, it's worth the effort.
"It's one of those sports that has always looked appealing to people, but maybe they don't know if they'd like it or they could do it right. But it's something you can teach anybody how to do," Baldwin explained.
The two started up a catfishing organization at UT more than a year ago, and then expanded it into an official club. Now, they're working to make it a nationally recognized collegiate sport.
"It just popped into my head. Why not collegiate catfishing?" Cooper said.
Cooper started researching the idea, and couldn't find another school in the country that had a collegiate catfishing program, so he and Baldwin went all in to start one.
They say it's a thrill they want to share with others who have never known the thrill of what fishing for a river monster can truly be. They are also promoting the importance of water conservation and the preservation of fish populations. The two are adamant about catching and releasing their giants so the fish continue to grow, and so others will be able to enjoy the rush of snagging a monster.
But there's more to it than just fishing for them. There are life lessons to be learned in the wee morning hours of a fishing boat.
"It's a really cool learning experience. We get to learn together, become better friends, and form the kind of life long relationships that fishing really fosters," Cooper said.
The duo are currently trying to get more people interested in the sport of catfishing, and also trying to get sponsors to support their idea of turning it into a collegiate competition.
To get more information about their program, or to learn more about catfishing, you can check out their Facebook page at 'The Collegiate Catfishing Association'.