DES MOINES, Iowa — A pair of best friends from Virginia are traveling the country and casting a wide net.
Luke Konson and Daniel Balserak are living out of their parents’ van while they drive from state to state fishing for each state’s official fish.
“It’s pretty crazy and I will remember this for a long time,” says Daniel Balserak.
Balserak, 19, and his childhood friend 18-year-old Luke Konson made the decision to criss-cross the country this summer after the pandemic derailed their college plans.
“We were going to be freshmen at Clemson 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 convincing from their parents and a lot of research and planning but the two feel like they made the right decision.
“I think we’re probably staying safer than most people just because we are around too many people and we are just outside kind of living our lives. I think it’s a great way to take this opportunity of the pandemic and turn it into something that is pretty fun,” says Balserak.
The “Fish All Fifty” quest began on the east coast, then up to the northeast, and now into the midwest. Catching a fish in Iowa will make the 20th state fish they’ve caught so far.
“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 do get it but it’s a little more difficult,” Konson describes.
The fishermen spent a few days in Iowa hoping to catch the channel catfish but after several days of no luck, 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.”
Konson and Balserak did finally get their channel catfish in Iowa and hope to make it to Texas by Thanksgiving. You can follow along on their journey on Instagram. When the two go back to college, they plan to major in business and engineering.