Brennan Chuprinko is a New Jersey angler who is currently studying at the University of Delaware. While at school, he is serving as the President for the University of Delaware club bass fishing team. We learn in this Angler Profile all about Brennan’s fishing including his time on the club team and his fishing when home in New Jersey.
How long have you been fishing?
I have been on a boat since I was 18 months old, and probably had a fishing rod in my hand as soon as I could hold it, maybe even a little sooner! Some of my earliest memories are out in the Fisher Island Sound in Connecticut on my grandparents’ Grady White bottom fishing for fluke and porgies. I grew up with saltwater fishing there and at my summer house in Long Island on the Little Peconic Bay. I didn’t transition to primarily bass fishing until I was in high school.
Did you go to the University of Delaware expecting to join their bass fishing team?
I went to the University of Delaware expecting to have to form the team myself. I couldn’t find anything about the school having a club until I got there and a friend told me they saw a fishing club at one of the club fairs.
I knew I wanted to be on the team and compete in college. In fact going into college I had upgraded from my Tracker to an older Ranger R91 just to make sure I had a big enough glass rig to handle the bigger lakes college tournaments fish.
I reached out to the President the next day and I was on the team. It took me one semester and then I was the Vice President, and now I am the President of the team.
It was great having the previous President, David Chiat, as he was the founder of the club. He put a lot of work into it. When I got there things really started to kick off as we were then able to start traveling with my boat to the college tournaments. Since I have come in as a freshman we have transitioned the club from a normal RSO (registered Student Organization) to a Club Sport allowing us to take more days off, as well as purchased a club boat, to ensure the longevity of the club.
How big is the club?
The club is about 35 to 40 members with 9 members on the traveling tournament team. Only about 20 or so are active members on a regular basis. We are still working on new things to get more members involved in the club and participate on a regular basis.
What have been some of the best aspects of being in the club?
Some of the best aspects of being in the club, especially for me have been the friends I’ve made in the club. Fishing friends I like to say will last a lifetime, and being able to fish with so many of the members in the club, especially those who I have traveled with to tournaments where you camp out or fish with for a week straight really creates some lasting memories.
Not only the friends, but just the ability to travel across the country to fish has been an awesome experience so far. I have been to Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and New York for the college tournaments. I have been able to fish some of the best bass lakes in the country which has been just an amazing experience so far.
How tough is the competition on the collegiate level?
The competition is incredibly difficult. Some of these guys you are competing against have been bass fishing their whole lives, some have been able to fish incredible bass lakes their whole lives, and it makes you feel like you have no shot at winning.
I didn’t start bass fishing until high school, and the biggest lake I have here in New Jersey is Lake Hopatcong which is all of 2500 acres and winning weights average about 14 pounds. Many of my team members are from the Delaware area where the biggest lake is 200 acres.
When we get thrown on these huge bodies of water with maybe 2 days of pre-fishing time available for us between a tight budget and time off being hard to find, it makes breaking down these bodies of water incredibly difficult. Not to mention for most of us, we have never fished lakes like these unlike most of the competition.
Since starting collegiate fishing, I have definitely learned quite a bit about fishing new lakes…how to break them down and how to really focus on finding fish. I never realized just how little I knew about bass fishing. I now read as much as I can about different techniques…about what the seasonal patterns of bass really are in different areas and so on.
I always used to just go out and throw what I wanted and kept doing it until I would get a bite. Now I have learned to either really slow down at times and pick areas apart. Or if I get somewhere and I am not getting bites after a bit, I realize that I need to move because they are not there. I used to waste too much time in areas just searching for a bite…and still do sometimes. I am learning to just pick up and try new areas more often now.
What year are you in school? What have been your best tournaments so far as a member of the club?
I am now going to be starting my Junior year as a Blue Hen this fall, so halfway done with my college career unfortunately. Our most recent tournament, at Cayuga Lake, was probably my best tournament yet.
Unfortunately it wasn’t that great of a finish. My partner David and I fished our last tournament together before he starts med school this fall. We finished 34th of 79 boats. However, the way the whole tournament went I thought we handled ourselves great.
During practice I spent the first day by myself as David drove up still healing with a really bad ear infection. The second day we practiced together. We focused a lot on just trying to run around and find spots. We could not find them in the weeds so we focused on different areas, like docks, rock walls, and bridges.
Tournament morning my engine wouldn’t start and we missed our blast off number and by the time we got started we were a half hour behind. We ran to our first spot and had a limit by 8 am and culled by 8:30. Unfortunately we were in a marina and never saw the no fishing sign, ended up having to throw back all of our fish and start over.
By the end of the day we managed to pick up 5 fish and cull one time with the new limit. Considering half the field din’t even find 5 keepers, we were quite proud of ourselves for how we handled the day. We managed to find new areas and pick some fish off, just unfortunately could not find those bigger bites.
Where are your main practice bodies of water for the club?
For us, in Delaware, the only decent sized body of water other than ponds is the Upper Chesapeake Bay, which is an incredibly difficult body of water to start learning. For many of us, we have only just started fishing on this body of water. Its very difficult to learn, between its size, and the fact that its a tidal fishery, which none of us have really fished before, especially for bass. It’s always making us learn new techniques, and really teaching us how to find the fish and focus in on patterns that these fish have. Its a difficult place to learn, but it’s definitely helping us a lot as anglers.
Other than the Upper Bay, the only other places we really fish are some local ponds and lakes like Trap Pond or Lums pond.
What are you favorite New Jersey bass waters?
New Jersey fishing is pretty difficult because there are not many big bodies of water and most of them are over fished. I work on Lake Hopatcong, the largest lake in NJ, all of 2500 acres.
That lake sees tournaments almost everyday throughout the season so its a tough lake to fish, but can be pretty good. It is also one of the only lakes in New Jersey where you can run your outboard!
The one good thing about New Jersey fishing is that there are a ton of different types of lakes and reservoirs. From weedy and shallow Lake Hopatcong, to super deep and clear Merrill Creek, you can really practice all different types of fishing within an hour from home.
Merrill Creek is a tough lake to fish, but if you figure it out, 4 plus pounders can be quite common. If you run south in New Jersey, you can find super shallow and dirty watered Carnegie Lake, which offers a whole different type of fishing. These lakes are all small in the grand scheme of things, but they offer a variety of types of water which really help you become a better angler.
What do you consider your strongest talents as an angler?
I still have a lot to learn, but I would have to say flipping weeds with any type of bait and I do pretty well. I fish Lake Hopatcong quite a bit, and the only structure in that lake is basically weeds and docks. Texas rigs and jigs are my go to confidence baits, when I throw those I know I will get a bite.
Also, I am a big fan of spinnerbaits. I find those as a great reaction bait and always manage to get a bite on those when others can’t. I always have a jig, texas rig, and spinnerbait on my deck at all times, i feel like they are the most versatile baits you can use almost anywhere.
What do you consider your biggest areas that you still need to grow to be a more successful as an angler?
I definitely need to focus a lot more of fishing new waters and really focusi on finding fish as quickly as I can. In my mind, finding fish is the hardest part. After that, I feel like presentation isn’t as difficult as long as you get something in front of the fish you should get the bite. But just trying to find them and find good areas that have a lot of fish is the hardest part.
Going to all of these huge lakes for college fishing is so challenging just from the fact of trying to break them down, and find fish in 100,000 acres of water. I’m focusing a lot more now in pre-fishing on just trying to run a round a lot more, and take fewer casts and more time searching to find more areas.
Also, I just got new Garmin units this winter, so I am really trying to learn how to use these units to search for fish and structure. Most of my home lakes, side imaging is all but useless, but now I am starting to learn to use it to find offshore structure, fish, or weed lines and speed up the fish finding process.
Overall, what are your future fishing goals?
Hopefully within my college career I would like to fish at least one, if not more championships, and place in them. In the long-run I’m not sure where to go after college as I will be working full-time in accounting. Maybe I will try to fish some opens and see where it goes from there. I definitely want to be involved in the fishing industry somehow in the long run, whether it be fishing as a pro, or just doing the accounting for a company in the industry. I will see where life takes me!
Who are your current sponsor and pro staff companies?
Personally I came into college with a couple sponsors: Mojo Sportswear, Peppers Polarized Eyeware, Bass Addiction Gear, Bruiser Baits, and E-Z Storage. I definitely would not be where I am without these companies, as fishing is not cheap, and I would not be able to afford it without these great companies supporting me.
From the awesome Peppers sunglasses that keep me eyes protected and help me see out on the water, and the Mojo clothing keeping my skin protected, to E-Z Storage that allows me to store my boat in the winter. Without them I would not be where I am today. Not to mention Bass Addiction Gear and Bruise Baits that supply me with some of the best baits and tungsten on the market. Also I have to thank Full Boat Baits, a small one man custom bait business who was my very first sponsor along with the one man business of T-Rex Baits! Also, thanks to these companies as they continue to support me, as well support the UD club team as well, and we have also added some great new companies like Dobyns Rods, and Go FIsh Cam!