by Tommy Abbott
As my son enters a new chapter in his life after graduating from high school, I’m reflecting back on the last three years and the blessing that high school bass fishing has been to our family. These are some of the things I learned as a high school bass fishing captain.
I’m writing this because the sport is fairly new and most teams and parents will experience growing pains. That’s not a bad thing because every team that exists must be open and welcome change to grow along with the sport. I’m certainly no expert, but three years taught me a bunch. Maybe this will help someone getting their kids into high school bass fishing and give them the extra information to make the transition a smooth one.
Picking a partner
First and foremost, picking partners for your team is probably the most important aspect of competing in high school fishing.
Please understand that your child’s best friend may not be, and probably isn’t, the best fishing “team” partner for them.
My best advice: Don’t just take the first partner that comes along. Go into it like an interview process both ways. Meet the other parents or family involved. Talk about your level of dedication and expectations of a potential partner. Also understand that not all people will have the same dedication that you may or may not have. That’s OK, just make sure you know that up front.
Some people will be extremely dedicated wanting to fish every weekend and pre-fish everything. Others are wanting to fish for fun and that’s the extent of their dedication. This is the issue that gets most teams into a situation that could, and should, be avoided.
Make sure your team members discuss and have the same expectations. Make sure they won’t skip out on your team if something better comes up. This sounds serious, but for a dedicated high school angler who expects their partner to be there day in and day out, there is nothing worse than getting a call right before a tournament with the news that a teammate can’t make it for reasons that you might think are trivial. If everything is established up front there won’t be any surprises.
On the other side of the partnership, for a young angler who feels pressure to dedicate more than they want, it can be uncomfortable and unfair to them as well.
One important fact to remember is that your first partner, or even subsequent partners, may be a great friend and you may love their family dearly, but if it’s not a good fit for the team, or each other’s expectations, it’s OK to be open and discuss a possible switch in partners.
Also know that you will probably be traveling with your child’s partner’s family so they are also your partners. Discuss how you plan on splitting expenses up front. Don’t expect the captain to pay all expenses just because he’s the captain. He already dedicates his time and most times wants to share expenses or sometimes may pay all expenses him or herself. That said, just address it up front.