Texas Fish & Game believes in high school bass fishing.
From its inception we have put winning teams on the cover, featured the sport on these pages, in our digital issue and at fishgame.com and have given opportunities for teams to fish with 2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion Alton Jones. (Thank you Alton!)
It’s an investment of time and resources we believe is very worthy.
While doing some research on the sport, I realized there are five key reasons we believe in the sport and are excited to continue the most comprehensive coverage on high school bass fishing to be found anywhere.
Reason #1: Championship Quality Kids
The quality of angler coming from high school clubs is astonishing and none is probably more evident than Chase Hux and Matt Nicholas from The Wildcat Fishing Team of New Braunfels Christian Academy. They won the 2015 Texas High School Bass Fishing Championship on Lake LBJ, landing a total of 26 pounds and 15 ounces.
Any pro team would be glad to have that bag. Part of the Faith Angler Network, they won back-to-back federation championships as well.
“My experience with Faith Angler Network has been incredible. Having the opportunity to fish alongside other
Christian anglers has been very rewarding,” said Chase in a press statement.
“From my first tournament and now nearing my last, every boat launch to weigh-in has been nothing but professional and well run by the staff at Faith Angler Network. Every angler as well as the staff have been supporting each other in a positive manner guiding toward making us better anglers, but more important, more Godly boys and girls.”
According to Matt he and his partner enjoyed the experience of representing their school and competing with other teams very much.
“It was a lot fun and we certainly learned a lot,” he said.
Not every sport involves a ball and not every kid can run with, throw or bounce one very well. Neither is every kid destined to be a cheerleader or voted class favorite. Bass fishing allows any kid whether seriously athletic or who just has a passion for fishing—an ability to excel in something they can take with them for life.
At age 69 Rick Clunn just became the oldest angler to win a B.A.S.S. event. You don’t see any basketball players competing at that age and certainly no one in the Super Bowl much over the age of 40.
Fishing is a lifetime pastime.
Reason #2: Resource Stewardship
The health of our fisheries will be at risk if no one understands them.
Young anglers engaged in competitive fishing have a vested interest in clean water, healthy bass populations and understanding how the ecological process works. Conservation in the industry is often put on as a bumper sticker of sorts. People tag it onto the end of their programs to show people how much they care.
We do care here at TFG as do many of our industry partners and we know resource protection is crucial. Young people being able to compete in a world where conservation is the tool that allows competition to exist is a great learning experience. If catch-and-release had not been adopted by B.A.S.S. and other tournament trials many years ago, we would certainly not have the healthy fisheries and tournament opportunities that exist today.
That is a lesson kids can only learn on the water.
Reason #3: Innovation
It is said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
The fishing industry has been engaging for the most part the same people for innovations for decades now. Part of that is because there were few people from younger generations entering into the industry at any level. That will change with high school bass fishing as well as at the collegiate level.
The tech savvy generation of today thinks differently. By merging their ability to navigate ever-changing technology and learning about fishing and competition, we expect innovations in electronics, lures, rods, reels and perhaps in tournament formats to come from young people who started on high school teams.
In many ways the wheel needs to be reinvented, and this generation might be the one to do it.
Reason #4: Industry Growth
The fishing industry has had stagnant growth for decades, depending on which source you believe. Drawing young people into the sport can only benefit the industry and the many jobs it supports across the board from fishing tackle factory workers to bait shop owners, and yes, outdoor writers.
A few years back I wrote a column stating we needed to get kids away from the X Box and into the tackle box. Well, the answer is finally here at least a big part of it. A chance to engage in competition, test oneself on the water and enjoy fishing is a drawing card for thousands of Texas kids. Most of them will only deepen their love of fishing and continue contributing to the industry for decades to come.
Reason #5: Texas Outdoor Nation
This might sound cocky, but coming from the people who bring you the in-your-face Texas Outdoor Nation, take it for what it’s worth.
We believe a Bassmaster Classic and/or FLW champion will come out of Texas high school bass fishing. It will most likely be with students who go through the collegiate route as well but not necessarily. I think of a rugged individual champion like Rick Clunn (who came from Texas by the way) and who certainly has done and continues to do things his way.
I think of truly great champions and competitors such as Alton Jones who sacrifice for others have an incredible amount of fishing skill. Then there are champions from the past like Larry Nixon and Tommy Martin. Even Denny Brauer has moved to Texas.
There is something about this state that produces champions and draws them in.
Make no mistake about it; the high school bass fishing system is creating champions right now. They might not all compete at the highest levels in the future, but they have all learned important life lessons. You can bet there is a kid or two out there right now who could very well be the future face of the sport.
—story by AUTHOR