by Tommy Abbott
High school and college bass fishing are growing exponentially each year. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
With anything that grows quickly there comes growing pains. Just the sheer development of the thought process to navigate the high school fishing world is a monumental challenge for so many anglers, families and captains.
Most have no idea on their first time at their first event the process that they are about to be thrown into. There’s no tournament 101 book or boot camp to help a captain and angler prepare for day one.
Even a seasoned tournament angler can be intimidated by showing up and seeing 250-plus boats trying to get in the water. I know, I’ve been there.
So, what’s a good answer to the madness? Where can a captain, family and angler turn to ease into the process rather than get thrown in the fire?
Well, for approximately 120 young anglers between the ages of 7 to 19, from Louisiana, and more specificly the Baton Rouge area, they turn to one of the best organizations that exists to prepare a young angler for the next step.
The Junior Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs has been pumping out some of the finest young anglers that this country has to offer. Why? Well although it’s a well oiled machine run by the husband and wife duo of Jim and Cindy Breaux, who love these kids like their own, it’s also giving these young anglers the knowledge and experience they need to go to the next level.
The format is an 11-tournament season with a couple of two day tournaments thrown in the mix. If a young angler starts at 7 years old, by the time they graduate, they have had the opportunity to fish a possible 121 bass tournaments, and that’s before they graduate high school. Many “pro” anglers don’t have that many tournaments under their belts when they are considered “seasoned.”
Not only that, but the anglers are fishing against seasoned young veterans of the sport who bring amazing competition month after month, year after year. The proof is in the pudding … the Louisiana based club has sent a massive amount of young anglers to the Bassmaster High School National Championship as well as the Junior Bassmaster National Championship with national championships won and many top 10 finishes.
Just this year in the state of Louisiana, there has been a huge influx of Junior Bassmaster clubs. Angler development is now on the minds of high school and college coaches alike.
As with any sport, the more practice and experience, the better an athlete can become. From travel baseball and softball to youth football leagues, and now to the fishing world, development starts early. What’s so great about it is that these kids are doing what they love, so fun should become the main focus. Great athletes have fun playing the sport they love. If they aren’t having a blast participating in a sport, it’s not the sport for them.
What’s even better, these kids are spending time with their captains and families in the outdoors. Keeping themselves engaged instead of bored and looking for an outlet to keep themselves occupied.
The first question a family and angler should ask themselves is, “How serious am I about excelling in the sport of fishing?”
Then, if the answer is “serious,” they better find a way to help their young angler gain the experience and time on the water needed to get to a competitive level. But never forget, this is fun too.
More and more companies understand the power of youth fishing organizations. They are seeking out anglers at younger ages and offering partnerships, not only to clubs, but to individual anglers themselves, to help them defray some of the costs of competing in the sport.
So if you are one of those families who has a young angler who is obsessed with fishing and the sport, you need to find a Junior Bassmaster club to be a part of. If you don’t have one in your area, start one and promote it via social media. As it grows, the skills of the young members will grow as well. By the time they reach high school they should have enough tournament experience under their belts to be old hands at the tournament process and be able to relax on tournament days to have fun. When they are having fun, they are fishing their best.
Contact your state B.A.S.S. Nation organization or B.A.S.S. to find out if you have a Junior club in your area.
The Jr Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs can be found on Facebook.
All the information to start a Junior Bassmaster club can be found on Bassmaster's website.