BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – As a youngster on Moss Lake, fishing from a johnboat rigged to look like a bass boat, FLW (Forrest L. Wood) pro angler Matt Arey probably never dreamed that nearly a hundred collegiate and community anglers would one day hang on his every move during a casting demonstration. But that was exactly the scene earlier this month when Arey, a Shelby, N.C. native, shared his time, expertise, and the story of his journey into the world of professional fishing with the Gardner-Webb University fishing club.
Standing before a crowd of onlookers at Gardner-Webb’s Lake Hollifield, Arey demonstrated casting secrets that have led him to 13 top-ten finishes on the FLW Outdoors Fishing Tournament Series since his pro debut in 2007. Arey’s career in professional tournament fishing was catapulted when he won the FLW Cup Co-Angler Championship in 2006, and he has since earned over $200,000 on the pro circuit. This season, Arey is ranked 27 of 160 anglers in the Wal-Mart FLW Angler of the Year Race.
“Matt represents the best of what being an FLW professional is all about,” said GWU Fishing Club Advisor Jeremy Fern. “He brings so much knowledge and expertise, while also being very personable and approachable.” He even promised the GWU fishermen that, before they fish National Guard FLW College Fishing circuit tournaments in Virginia and New York later this season, he would share with them everything he knew about those lakes.
Gardner-Webb fishermen were not the only ones to benefit from Arey’s insights. Jeremy Mikell, a Gardner-Webb alum and fishing club supporter, was in attendance, along with a large contingent from the local fishing community. “What a phenomenal night of learning, funny stories, and down-to-earth approachability,” said Mikell. “Because of Matt’s willingness to be accessible as a resource to the club, we can all learn to be better fishermen.”
Arey brought greetings-and more than $500 worth of raffle giveaways-from many of his sponsors, which include Ranger Boats, Evinrude Outboards, Collin’s Marine, One Stop Food Stores, Costa Del Mar, Denali Rods, P Line, Royal Cup Coffee, MotorMate, Power Pole, Bob’s Machine Shop, AnglerSkins.com, and Gambler Lures.
“It says a lot not only about Matt, but about his sponsors themselves and about FLW, that they would be so eager to support an educational opportunity like this for our students and our community. We deeply appreciate each of the sponsors who helped make the event possible,” Fern said.
GWU senior Jacob Vandenbark, the club’s president, said, “The willingness of a professional angler to help teach, and even partner with, a college fishing club amazes me. I can’t be more appreciative of all the support Matt has given our club.”
Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University seeks a higher ground in higher education – one that embraces faith and intellectual freedom, balances conviction with compassion, and inspires in students a love of learning, service, and leadership.