A 2023 Herbert Graduate Now Bassmaster Elite

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Robert Gee, a 2023 graduate from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, recently achieved Bassmaster Elite status in his rookie season as a professional bass fisherman.

While he had hopes of pursuing collegiate baseball, his “passion” for UT Knoxville and fishing led to his participation on the UT Bass Fishing Club Team. His success as a collegiate angler put him in the position to compete in the 2023 Bassmaster Open Series, thus launching his career.

When asked about preparing for his career, Gee explained, “Not having a coach and going to the competitions, fundraising, and getting sponsors on our own was really what helped me to become a pro while I was in college.”

Gee’s passion for fishing started when he would go fishing with his grandfather at their lake. He goes on to say that they were just your stereotypical dad, son, and grandfather going out fishing. He added, “By the time I could walk, I was fishing on a boat with my dad and grandad.”

At the age of ten, Gee got into all-things-sports. While he could not fish as often, his love for fishing never stopped. When he turned sixteen, his parents gave him a bass boat and a truck for his birthday. He then started fishing competitively along with playing baseball.

When Gee’s senior year came along, he knew that he wanted to either play baseball or fish competitively in college. He ultimately decided to fish and stay close to home. “I love Knoxville and UT, so it was a very easy decision for me”.

Gee had much success in his collegiate fishing career, receiving many sponsors and helping the team win several tournaments. His journey at UT Knoxville helped prepare him for his professional career as a Bassmaster elite. His proudest accomplishment being making top ten angler of the year during his senior year, which guaranteed him a spot at all nine open tournaments.

During his time on the UT Bass Fishing Club Team, Gee said he learned, “The results you have in college don’t really matter; college is more of a practice run. So when it does matter, you can do better. Yes, you should always try to do your best, but your career is not going to end because of one bad tournament.”

While balancing school work and fishing wasn’t always easy, Gee credits his success in the classroom to his professors in the Herbert College of Agriculture. Earning quality grades translated to a successful collegiate fishing career, which allowed him to immediately compete in the “minor leagues of fishing” after graduation.

When asked if Gee expected to be fishing as a Bassmaster Elite right now, he expressed, “Two years ago, I was walking into class dreaming that this day might come.” He always had a passion for fishing with the hopes that one day he would become an Elite, but certainly not this early in his career.

Gee owes his personal development and ability to be on his own out on the water to what he learned while fishing at UT Knoxville. Since he did not have a coach, he pushed himself to come up with solutions on his own, which is very important in a sport where you are betting on your own abilities.

As Gee continues to rock the boat, the college wishes him well in his Elite-level competitions this year.