By April Balough
If a St. Petersburg College student is not in one of Professor Nichol’s marine classes, they may not have heard about the entertaining and relaxing Tampa Bay Fishing Club. On Thursday afternoons, Professor Nichol travels with his class to experience and educate them about the sights and sounds of Pinellas beaches. Traveling with his students from Honeymoon Island to Fort Desoto gives Nichol the perfect opportunity to gather with a few eager fishermen, kick back, and enjoy the water once class is over.
Fishing Club has about 20 members that rotate, with eight to ten that show up at any given location. Most of the members are current students of Professor Nichol, but some are graduates, students from past semesters, or peers whose friends encouraged them to join. “Anyone interested can stop by my office (TL 114d) to sign a couple of papers before they head out with us,” Nichol said. “The only things you need are a ride, clothes you don’t mind getting wet, and water shoes. I can bring rods, tackle, and anything else, if you let me know ahead of time.”
About nine years ago, Professor Nichol was asked by Dr. Olliver, Provost at SPC’s Seminole Campus, to begin the Environmental Club to organize campus recycling and conduct environmental information sessions. When SPC rolled out its brand new Office for Sustainability in 2009, complete with new degree programs and new staff, Environmental Club was passed to that department. “I wanted to start an Outdoor Adventure Club and do nature hikes and various things like that,” Nichol said. “I decided to start the Fishing Club because I was already out in the field, and I wanted to give an opportunity for oceanography and marine biology students to not only have fun fishing, but to get some environmental education at the same time. That’s all part of Fishing Club, the learning experience.”
Oscar Guerrero and Chawanaphong “Pipe” Jasuwan are two dedicated members that stay after every one of Nichol’s field trips to indulge in their passion for fishing. They always catch and release, with only a picture to commemorate the occasion. “We learn something new everyday and always see various types of fish, depending on the time, place, and the tides,” Guerrero said. “We enjoy fishing with the professor, even though he always beats us with catching the better fish.”
Professor Nichol loves his tight-knit fishing crew, but emphasized that his door is always open, and all are welcome to come and check it out. When asked what a new member can expect at fishing club, Nichol simply stated, “Good times, good people, and mediocre fishing.”