March 15, 2013 by Gary Mortenson
(Editor's note: Leading up to the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship - slated for April 19-21 on Beaver Lake in Rodgers, Ark. - CollegeFishing.com will publish weekly, in-depth features stories of each of the 25 national championship team qualifiers. At stake in the tournament is a first-place prize package that includes $30,000 in cash, a brand new, Ranger Z-117 bass boat and an automatic berth in the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup.)Club Web site: http://reelknights.com/ Q&A CollegeFishing.com: How were you introduced to fishing? Casey O'Donnell: I was introduced to fishing first by my parents and secondly by television. I was fortunate enough to have had the ability to go fishing at a young age where my passion for the sport blossomed, but also at that same age my obsession grew from watching the competition aspect of professional fishing. Miles "Sonar" Burghoff: I grew up fishing. I was born in South Florida and my dad would always take me saltwater fishing. Soon after, I was introduced to freshwater bass fishing in the Northeast and the passion has never died. CollegeFishing.com: What style/method of fishing are you most comfortable with? Casey O'Donnell: I pride myself on my versatility so I really feel comfortable in almost any situation. But the majority of my success has come fishing shallow. Basically, any aspects of flipping and pitching and/or shallow-grass techniques are my meat and potatoes. Miles "Sonar" Burghoff: I would have to say I am a pretty versatile angler, and since I have lived in Florida, California, Connecticut and now Alabama, I am comfortable with a lot of stuff. But if I had to pick one technique, I would have to say flipping would be my forte. CollegeFishing.com: What did it feel like to qualify for the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship? How do you plan to prepare for the big event? Casey O'Donnell: It was a huge relief because we at UCF feel like we belong at the best tournament in College Fishing. With that said, it is humbling being here with this caliber of competitors because these guys truly are the best young anglers in the world. Preparation will start for us with pre-practice before the off-limits period. Any other preparation will be by fishing other tournaments to stay mechanically sharp and mentally focused. Miles "Sonar" Burghoff: It feels great to qualify for the 2013 National Championship. I have been to the championship once before in 2011, but this one is special since it is my last college event. I have a pretty busy schedule leading up to the championship, so it is going to be difficult to get a lot of practice time on Beaver. But I think Ill be able to put in at least a week of pre-practice. CollegeFishing.com: Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn't know. Casey O'Donnell: I was originally an ice hockey player and will always have a love for that sport. I dedicated 14 years of my life to hockey. But when I graduated high school I knew long term that the right choice was to stay in Florida (a state known for its bass fishing, not hockey) and chase my dream of being a touring professional fisherman. So far I am happy where I am and I thank hockey immensely for teaching me mental toughness and giving me the joy to compete. Follow me on Twitter @CPOFishing or "like" my page on Facebook at CPO Fishing. Miles "Sonar" Burghoff: I guess one of the most interesting things about me that many people wouldn't know is that my girlfriend, Katie, lives in Santa Cruz, Calif. And of course with me living in Guntersville, Ala., we've been kind of doing the long distance dating thing which we will have to keep doing for the next year or so before we can make other arrangements. Of course, to most people, the most interesting thing about me is my father, Gary, who played the character "Radar" on the television series MASH. I guess you know why they call me "Sonar."