QUITMAN, Texas — Twelve outstanding high school anglers lived a dream today by competing in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament, held during the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The students are members of the exclusive 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. Each angler was paired with a Bassmaster Elite Series pro for the competition held Saturday on Lake Winnsboro, an 806-acre impoundment near Lake Fork, site of the Bassmaster Elite Series event. The weigh-in was held on the Bassmaster Elite Series stage used by the pros on the shoreline of Lake Fork.
The team of Elite Series pro Brett Preuett and All-American Aaron Cherry, of Kinsey, Ala., weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces to take the win. Bladed jigs fished on rocky points produced most of their strikes.
“He’s got a great future ahead of him, both as an all-star student and an angler,” said Preuett, whose competitive career began at the Bassmaster College Series level.
“He taught me a lot about breaking down a new lake because neither of us had fished there before,” said Cherry.
Elite Series pro Paul Mueller and Brooks Anderson took second with 7-6. Anderson, a senior at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy in Marietta, Ga., covered the lake from end to end.
“What he taught me was how to use electronics to find offshore bass,” said Anderson. “I had never done that before, and offshore fishing is my weakness.”
The team used a variety of crankbaits, all fished on hard bottom, with much of their time spent with a rotation at the dam.
Qualification criteria for All-American underscores the prestige and popularity of the program. More than 300 applications nominating students in grades 10-12 were submitted from 33 states. Of those, 49 were chosen as Bassmaster All-State anglers. After reviewing tournament resumes, conservation efforts, community service activities and recommendations from coaches and school officials, a panel of judges representing the sportfishing industry, media and conservation groups further narrowed the field to the Top 12 high school anglers in the country.
While a senior at Headland High School, Cherry secured five wins, including Bassmaster High School Classic champion, as well as three Top 5 finishes and six Top 20 finishes in high school events. Cherry earned the angler of the year title in the East Alabama High School Bass Trail twice and has been ranked in the Top 5 in the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation Angler of the Year standings three times in the last four years. Cherry also fishes in adult tournaments and ranked in the Top 20 in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship this tournament season, as well as winning the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship in 2018 as a co-angler.
Cherry dedicates much of his time to teaching others about fishing and introducing them to the sport. He has helped raise over $50,000 for the Headland Bass Team over the duration of his six years as a member and has volunteered 200 hours with Wired Ministries.
On Friday, students from a local elementary school attended a fishing clinic taught by the All-American anglers. Following the clinic, the All-Americans attended an awards banquet, where they received commemorative tournament jerseys, a Texas Parks & Wildlife state fishing license, and a $150 gift card from Academy Sports + Outdoors for a shopping spree. All events were held at the store in Greenville.