Arndt conquers shyness with high school fishing

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Junior Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. High School programs have improved the fishing skills of countless young anglers throughout the years, but in Michael Arndt’s case, they also changed his personality.

Arndt was introduced to competitive bass fishing in 2010 when his dad talked him into joining the Salt City Junior Bassmasters.

“I have always been a real shy kid, but I just ended up getting involved that first year and I loved it,” Arndt said. “I have definitely grown a lot from it. When I got involved in the club, it forced me to talk. So it helped me to learn how to communicate and I obviously learned about fishing along the way, but I look at it as more than just fishing.”

After the Salt City junior club disbanded, Arndt joined the Good Ole Boys Junior Bassmasters and has been the club’s president for the last three years. His junior club accomplishments include winning the New York State Junior Partners Tournament in 2011 and the New York Black Lake Junior Club Team Championship in 2014. He also won the 2012 Good Old Boys Junior Angler of the Year and 2014 Good Ole Boys Junior-Pro Angler of the Year awards.

Fishing for a New York district high school team, Arndt and his partner, Ryan Hujar, won this year’s New York Nation High School State Championship, and went on to place ninth overall in the 2015 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship and first in the second-chance segment of the tournament. He also finished second in the 2013 New York state qualifier for the inaugural Bassmaster High School National Championship and took second place in the high school division of the 2014 B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Divisional to help the New York team win the Eastern Divisional team title.

The 17-year-old high school senior also won the 2014 New York B.A.S.S. Nation Presidents Award presented to an individual “who has demonstrated outstanding character while participating in an event or performing a job for an organization.” Arndt was awarded for his performance at the Eastern Divisional when he helped “lead and encourage a group of adult anglers in a way which inspired the others.”

His high school club advisor, Fred Chilluffo, said he believes Arndt’s fishing skills and personality made him an ideal choice for the Bassmaster High School All-State team for New York.

“He is a super kid and very modest, “said Chilluffo. “He has progressed to be an excellent jig fisherman. Before, he was pretty much a Senko guy, but now he has progressed to different types of presentations he can use under certain conditions to do well.”

Arndt plans to attend a local community college to study marketing after graduating from high school.

“I will probably fish collegiately and see where that takes me,” said Arndt, who said he hopes to have a career in some capacity of the fishing industry.