You know what they say about fish stories. They reel you in with the lure of the implausible, the fantastic, the enviable, the biggest and best. A Texas songwriter, Robert Earl Keen, who always packed Upstate music venues, sings about snagging a five-pound bass—a euphemism for hauling in a big prize, whatever that catch may be.
Nick Rubio has one. “The whole story, it’s such a God thing. I was a basketball player. It’s all I ever did. My goal was to play Division 1 sports. I had four or five offers on the table.”
He was even looking at an opportunity to play alongside a little-known point guard named Steph Curry at Davidson College. But then Rubio played the Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic in 2008. That’s when that fish got away.
“I was trying to figure out where I was going to go, and I’d been praying, ‘If this is what You want me to do . . . ’ I walked off the court after the game, got in the car, started bawling, crying. I just felt like it wasn’t there.”
What was there was a newfound love of competitive fishing. Next thing you know, an idea caught him. In 2015, he started Fatsack, a sport-fishing app—yes, there’s an app for that.
Fish Tales // Nick Rubio’s fishing app Fatsack not only records catch information, it also allows for virtual tournaments in real time, utilizing a Bluetooth scale for accuracy.
Today, Fatsack’s valuation weighs in at $2.5 million. The free app records everything about a catch, from the exact location to a fish’s weight, the tackle used, and the weather that day. No more handwritten logs—paper and water never did mix. Not only that, the app allows virtual tournaments. Fishermen from California to Switzerland can compete in real time, using a Bluetooth weighing scale that syncs with the app’s leaderboard.
“Nick’s put a lot of thought behind how to build this app,” says Hank Parker, the granddaddy of TV-show fishing and the man who Bryant Gumbel once called the Michael Jordan of the rod and reel. Appearing on a video produced in Union, South Carolina, Parker says, “I think it could even help an old-school guy that uses a crayon that marks on a legal pad.”
Andrew Kiser, a 25-year-old Seneca fisherman, is captain of the Clemson Bass Fishing Club, which Rubio helped start. Now with 74 members, it’s one of nearly 200 such collegiate organizations nationwide. Kiser wanted to be a professional athlete, too, but a shoulder injury sank that.
Competitive fishing, he says, is becoming all the rage, especially among younger outdoorsmen, who, like everyone else nowadays, utilize apps like Fatsack. “It’s getting big, it’s the future of college sports.” (Competitive fishing isn’t NCAA-incorporated, so competitors keep all their earnings from hundreds of annual tournaments.)
Kiser talks about a buddy who’s an amputee, once a football player who also had big-league ambitions. Now, his friend has found his own five-pound bass. “It gives athletes another source to compete at the college level.”
Says Rubio: “Fishing is not this old man’s sport anymore. It’s tough, it’s tiring, it’s competitive. It gets the juices going.”
Download the Fatsack app for free on your mobile device.