SALIDA, Colo. — Morgan Fitzgerald is from trout country in Colorado, but the 18-year-old has become an accomplished bass angler in the last three years.
“Once he started catching bass, he was unstoppable,” said Sam Heckman, his coach in the Fountain Valley Junior Bass Club.
Fitzgerald’s success in bass fishing tournaments, along with his leadership and service in the fishing community, earned the young angler a spot on the 2016 Bassmaster High School All-American team.
Fitzgerald’s dedication showed last year when he organized a fishing club at Salida High School but had to come up with an alternate plan.
“Unfortunately, we did not have enough members to sustain the program,” explained Tami Thompson, the principal at the high school Fitzgerald graduates from this month.
“But that didn’t stop Morgan,” she said. “He continued to recruit students, and they all participated with a neighboring club.”
Fitzgerald travels two hours, one way, to attend club tournament meetings. He has been the Fountain Valley club’s Angler of the Year twice, and last summer, he won the SAF State Championship for Colorado.
Fitzgerald enjoys time on the water — even when he’s not competing. For two years, the high schooler has interned at the Mount Shavano State Fish Hatchery. The experience has shaped his desire to study fish and wildlife conservation biology, which he will begin doing this fall at Fort Lewis College. Fitzgerald earned an academic scholarship to the school, based on multiple consecutive quarters of making Honor Roll, as well as an intern scholarship from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
In June, Fitzgerald joined his fellow All-Americans at the 2016 Bassmaster High School All-American Tournament, held in conjunction with BASSfest in Oklahoma.
Keep up with the High School All-American program at Bassmaster.com/AllAmerican.