TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — “Any one can go fishing, but you can really make it as long as you’re willing to put the work in,” said Oakley Connor, a senior at Travelers Rest High School and member of the 2017 Bassmaster High School All-American team presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods. “To be a tournament angler, you have to have a different mindset.”
Connor has earned three wins in high school tournaments, including the TBF/SAF South Carolina High School State Championship in which he and his partner competed against 66 other teams. He also has 10 Top 20 finishes to his credit.
“It’s a huge honor to be named an All-American,” Connor said. “Growing up, I always loved fishing; so being able to see where I started and to make it where I am now is such a huge honor. To be named a Bassmaster All-American is further than I ever thought I would go.”
Connor served as the 2016 Travelers Rest High School Devildog bass fishing team’s vice president, and participates as an instructor in four teach-to-fish classes, serving three elementary schools and 265 students. Last summer, Connor served as a weekly route driver for Meals on Wheels and delivered warm meals to individuals and families in the Travelers Rest community.
“He helped start our school’s fishing team and has been an integral part of its success over the past three and a half years,” wrote Michael Eudy, Connor’s fishing coach. “Oakley is a model student of TRHS and a model citizen for our Travelers Rest community.”
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk partnered with Connor to participate in a special Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament held in conjunction with the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department event.
He and Connor weighed in 12 pounds, 3 ounces to top the 12-team field. Palaniuk had a 5-14, and Connor caught a 6-5.
When asked why he wanted to go out with a high school student that day, Palaniuk didn't hesitate. “I had somebody take me fishing when I was young,” he said. “That gave me the inspiration to do what I am doing now.”
Read more about the Bassmaster High School All-American anglers on Bassmaster.com and look for their profiles in the September/October issue of Bassmaster magazine.