He’s one of the CFL’s top receivers, but Reggie Begelton can catch more than just footballs.
When the Calgary Stampeders’ star is away from the field, he likes being on water and chasing whatever swims. Two weeks ago, during the team’s bye, Begelton fished for walleyes at McGregor Lake about 173 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
Next week, when the Stampeders are off again, he’s hoping to hook some trout on the Bow River.
“It gives me a therapeutic out from the real world,” Begelton said. “I go with no expectations so even if I have a bad day, I’m just happy to be out there.
“If I have a great day, then that just makes it more exhilarating. The whole purpose is active therapy, that’s how I like to put it.”
Begelton’s fishing passion began while growing up in Beaumont, Tex.
“I have pictures from one of the first times I went fishing,” he said. “I had a stringer of fish and I was maybe six, seven years old.
“When I was kid, it was mostly put a shrimp on and see whatever bit.”
Begelton said he switched to live bait and started targeting different species once he started fishing with his dad.
“When I got to college [Lamar University], I’d go after practice or class and I picked up fishing artificial baits. Once I did that and learned how to entice fish, I’ve never gone back to bait,” he said.
“We actually trolled with worms fishing for walleyes [at McGregor Lake] and it was very anticlimactic for me. I was like, ‘This is not what I really wanted to do,’ but at least I got to knock a species off my list.”
Begelton said the biggest fish he’s caught was a black drum, a saltwater species, that measured 56 inches. Not surprisingly, there’s a story that goes along with it.
“We were fishing and hooked on to someone’s rod and reel setup,” Begelton said with a chuckle. “You could tell they’d just lost it because it hadn’t corroded or anything like that.
“I put a lure on it just to see if it worked and the first cast is when I hooked that drum and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I think she still works.’ I actually have video of it.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Begelton is in his fifth season with Calgary, having registered 172 catches for 2,529 yards and 14 touchdowns in 39 career regular-season games. In 2019, Begelton registered 102 catches for 1,444 yards and 10 TDs en route to being named a West Division all-star.
Begelton, 28, spent parts of two seasons with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers (2020-21) before rejoining the Stampeders on Nov. 1. He had nine receptions for 133 yards and a TD in two regular-season games before registering five catches for 105 yards in Calgary’s 33-30 overtime West Division semi-final loss to Saskatchewan.
This season, Begelton has 14 catches for 160 yards and a TD as Calgary (4-0) visits the defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-0) on Friday night.
Begelton played 46 games at Lamar University (2012-15). He graduated as the school’s all-time leader in catches (227) and yards (2,435) and second in TD receptions (20).
“Fishing for Reggie is his pastime,” said Kenny Kim, Begelton’s agent based in Tampa, Fla. “I see pictures, videos, all the time of him and his friends having a great time fishing as a group.
“It’s a good outlet for him outside of football, to get away and clear his mind.”
When it comes to fishing, Begelton is always open to going after different species. During his time at Lamar, Begelton chased largemouth bass and while with the Packers he tangled with smallmouth bass.
Begelton’s fishing bucket list also includes northern pike, muskies, sturgeon and halibut, to name but a few.
“I’ll fish for whatever we are targeting,” he said. “I’m still trying to get my first 30-plus speckled trout so that’s what I’m kind of hunting for now but they’re hard to get.”
Begelton practises catch-and-release but does enjoy keeping some fish for the table.
“When I do flounder, I like to either bake it or stuff it with crawfish or crabmeat,” he said. “Redfish I try to do on a half shell on the grill or fry it.
“Speckled trout, for me, is baked.”
If Begelton wasn’t a pro football player, he could’ve seen himself seriously exploring options to become a professional angler.
“If I could drop everything right now and do something I loved and knew I’d be successful and wouldn’t have to worry about funds, it would be pro fishing,” he said. “If I could get the sponsorships and everything, I’d be happy to go to tournaments and I’d love to do that for a living, absolutely.
“The thing with tournament fishing is I wouldn’t say that’s when it becomes a job. It [fishing] becomes a job when you’re a guide, bringing people out and you have that pressure of trying to make them catch fish. I think it becomes a job then and I don’t think I’d enjoy that at all.”