Bassmaster High School Program expansion planned for 2015

B.A.S.S. has expanded the Bassmaster High School Series to three Opens for 2015 and has increased the number of ways high school anglers can qualify for the Bassmaster High School National Championship.

When B.A.S.S launched the Bassmaster High School Series in 2014, the series exceeded the number of anglers expected to participate within the first four months of the program’s inception. The sudden growth sparked a need to accommodate the demand for a youth fishing platform across the nation.

“The number of anglers who want to fish with us is really impressive,” said Hank Weldon, manager of the Bassmaster High School Series. “High School fishing has the potential to be the largest tournament series we have in terms of angler participation.”

Weldon said several new routes to qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster High School National Championship have been added. In addition to berths earned through each participating state’s championship, high school anglers can qualify through sanctioned bass trails and through three regional Opens-format events.

“With the new format in 2015, we expect the field for the championship to grow even more,” Weldon said.

Beginning in January, anglers can qualify for the championship any of three ways: each state’s B.A.S.S. Nation’s Top 2 high school teams, the Bassmaster High School Opens presented by Carhartt and through B.A.S.S. Nation-affiliated High School trails.

“We wanted to offer high school students more opportunities to compete in the national championship,” Weldon said. “We want the best of the best fishing our championship, and this new format increases the number of chances for busy high school students to qualify.”

Weldon said two of the three High School Opens have been scheduled. The Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by Carhartt, in partnership with the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation, will be held Feb. 14, 2015, on Lake Martin, Alabama. And the Central Open, in partnership with the Southeast Texas High School Fishing Association, will be held March 14 on Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border. A third Open slated for the Midwest will be announced later.

Similar to the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship qualifying structure, B.A.S.S will award one championship spot for every 10 participating teams in each tournament, after a minimum of 50 teams.

The High School Opens will be one-day tournaments with a briefing and sponsor greeting held the night before competition.

Additionally, B.A.S.S. is extending the team trail format into the high school ranks. Qualifying high school tournament trails that are members of the B.A.S.S. High School Nation will be offered national championship berths.

“We are fully committed to growing our High School B.A.S.S. Nation,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director. “The decision to invest more resources behind the High School Series was a no-brainer. The demand is there, and we know that 2015 is going to be very exciting for the growth of our sport.”