Students turning gap year into fishing adventure stop in Vermont

Two Virginia students taking a gap year from school plan to stop in every state to fish, try to reel one in while in Vermont.
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 7:08 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Most colleges and universities are using at least some virtual learning this year due to the pandemic. For some students, that’s not an ideal option and they’re taking a gap year instead.

That includes Daniel Balserak and Luke Konson who are traveling the United States instead of spending their first year of college at home and online.

“I got a text from Luke I remember one night at like 2 a.m. and he said I have a crazy idea,” said Balserak “We right now are on a journey to go to all 50 states, to catch the state fish in each one,” said Konson.

The best friends from northern Virginia were set to start their freshman year and be roommates at Clemson University in South Carolina, but for the last month, they have been traveling and fishing for each state’s state fish.

“I thought there was no way my parents would let me come, but after a month or so of convincing it worked out. And here I am,” said Balserak, who doubted the trip would happen.

So far their journey has led them around the East Coast from Maryland to Maine.

“It puts a goal to it, so it’s not just traveling and fishing which is kind of aimless,” said Konson.

Wednesday, the friends were reeling at Lake Carmi looking to catch walleye, which is the Vermont state warm-water fish. They plan to stay in each state until they make their catch.

“I have always wanted to come here. I have seen it in movies and stuff, it’s a beautiful state,” said Balserak about Vermont. “The mountains and the trees. It’s a beautiful state up here,” Konson added about Vermont.

The two 18-year-olds say the trip involves a lot of research and planning. They point to a low budget, using savings along with a GoFundMe, and living out of their car. But traveling during the pandemic means there are travel restrictions. These anglers say that to be safe and efficient they have mapped out where the fish are and when to buy a license and where they can freely travel under each state’s guidelines.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure we meet the legal obligations,” said Konson.

“I think we have done our research pretty well and have stayed on task,” said Balserak.

They plan to hit as many states as possible within the next year. But they know some of the harder to get to states like Alaska and Hawaii may have to wait. In the meantime, the two best friends continue to put a line out instead of being online for class.

“I think everyone should at least consider getting outside, doing something like this. Nature is pretty amazing and we don’t experience it enough,” said Konson

Once Konson and Balserak catch a walleye in Vermont, they are heading to New York to catch a brook trout. Click here to follow their journey on Instagram.,

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