Overcoming obstacles: Radford University student finds fishing success despite being blind

Outdoors Bound

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Some stories just make you feel good. They’re supposed to. They usually involve heroes or overcoming obstacles, or people just being good to one another.

This story has all of those elements.

Oh, and it has some big fish, too!

Let’s start you at the beginning, shall we?

It all started at the opening of the school year at Radford University. A new student by the name of Caroline Carbaugh wanted to join a team or an organization. She made her way around the tables at the school’s activity fair searching for a group to join. Finally, she found the table belonging to the Radford University Bass Fishing Team. She asked to join.

Now, this is where the story takes an inspirational turn.

Carbaugh is visually impaired. In fact, she’s legally blind, but she was not going to let that get in her way.

Neither were the guys on the fishing team. They welcomed her with open arms.

Carbaugh had been fishing before, but her experience was limited. Her teammates wanted to get her on the water to help with some instruction. While they primarily fish for bass, they took Carbaugh to a place where they knew there were some fish, and where they could provide some patient coaching; the Blue Springs Trout Farm just south of Wytheville.

Within minutes, Carbaugh had a huge rainbow trout on the line. It was the first fish of the day. Team President Jackson Norton netted the fish.

“You got it?” Carbaugh asked as Norton scooped up the big trout in the net. “I’ve never felt a trout before.”

“Just put your hand into the bottom of the net,” said Norton as he lifted the fish toward Carbaugh.

“Woo hoo!” Carbaugh screamed with joy.

As the day went on, Carbaugh was able to show she had fishing skills and prove that the team’s confidence in her was well-founded. She caught several more trout.

She says feel and sound are just as important to catching fish as vision is.

“First I will feel the line tug, but sometimes I give it a few seconds and kind of listen to the sound,” said Carbaugh as she held her rod, waiting for another trout to strike. “There are times you feel the fish tug, but other times you hear them paddling the water.”

Members of the Radford Fishing Team pose with trout they caught

“She is an inspiration, and we’re happy to have her,” said teammate Kent Clark. “She’s already caught three fish to my one.”

That sentiment was echoed by Norton.

“We saw how much she loved it, and we knew we had to give her a chance, and she came through,” said Norton.

About that time we heard Carbaugh exclaim, “YES!”

She reeled in another one.

For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list

Get breaking news, weather, and sports delivered to your smartphone with the WFXR News app available on Apple and Android.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More News

News Tip Form