Hooked: Two college freshmen ditch school, go on nationwide fishing trip

National News

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — A pair of best friends from Virginia are traveling the country fishing for each state’s official fish.

Luke Konson and Daniel Balserak are living out of their parents’ van while they drive from state to state.

“I guess it will be a good grandpa story or something like that,” says Balserak. “It’s pretty crazy, and I’ll definitely remember it for a long time.”

The 19-year-old and childhood friend 18-year-old Konson decided to crisscross the country this summer after the pandemic derailed their college plans.

“We were going to be freshmen at Clemson (University), then about two weeks before moving in, they announced the first month of classes would be online and we did not want to do that,” Konson said.

The trip took some convincing for their parents and a lot of research and planning.

“I think we’re probably staying safer than most people just because we’re not around too many people, and we are just outside kind of living our lives,” said Balserak. “I think it’s a great way to take this opportunity of the pandemic and turn it into something that is pretty fun.”

The “Fish All Fifty” quest began on the East Coast, then up to the northeast, and now into the Midwest.

“We just kind of gave it a purpose. There’s a goal to it. It’s not just any fish, it’s the specific species with adds a feeling of accomplishment when you actually do get it. It’s a little more difficult,” Konson describes.

The fishermen spent several days in Iowa trying to catch the channel catfish with no luck at first. They say fishing is teaching them about patience and life in a pandemic.

“Sometimes it feels like you are doing everything right and it just doesn’t work out, but we’ve gotten used to that and we are better at it now,” said Konson.

After catching the channel catfish, their 20th state fish so far, Konson and Balserak hope to make it to Texas by Thanksgiving.

You can follow along on their journey on Instagram.

When the two return to college, they plan to major in business and engineering.

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