2011 marks the fourth time Kevin VanDam has won a Bassmaster Classic, but this year he shared the stage with a new wave of anglers: the LSU college fishing team.

The LSU anglers celebrate on stage, at the Bassmaster Classic.

The LSU anglers celebrate on stage, at the Bassmaster Classic.

The Classic is the ultimate contest among freshwater fishermen, an invite-only tournament that dates back to 1971 and today pays a cool half-million dollars to the winner. VanDam is the second pro (Rick Clunn was the first) to win four classic titles, and to take two of them back-to-back.

Fishing was intense for all three days of the Classic, with many anglers cruising as far as Venice, LA, a two-hour run from the boat ramp in New Orleans. To make it even more interesting, fog delays cut nearly three and a half hours out of their fishing time. That didn’t stop the winner from amassing a grand total of 69 pounds, 11 ounces of largemouth bass during his three days of fishing, bringing in his five-fish limit every day. VanDam shared his glory, however, with the next generation of prospective pro anglers: The Louisiana State University college fishing team. This was only the second time college bassers have been invited to a Classic, and LSU beat out Alabama for the title by an eight-pound blow-out margin.

According to LSU team president Logan Mount, the six two-man teams enjoyed excellent fishing. “My partner and I caught over 80 fish,” he said, “and some were two and three pounders.” Weigh-ins were held on-stage along with the pros, at the New Orleans Arena. “To do this in front of a home-team crowd, it was just great,” Mount added.

Collegiate fishing seems to be one of the fastest college-level sports around, with over 200 schools now participating and some even offering bass fishing scholarships. "College fishing has grown significantly in the past few years and I don’t think it’s going to stop growing," Mount said. "I know some of the guys I fish against are going to fish at the professional level, and hopefully, I will be one of them." The bad news? That means he’ll have to go up against the likes of VanDam.