Canadian anglers take on high school championship

KAWARTHA LAKES, Ontario — Cooper Gallant and Danny McGarry will be the first anglers to represent Canada in the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship presented by TNT Fireworks.

The teammates just won the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation High School Championship on Sturgeon Lake less than two weeks ago on July 12, and now they’re in Paris, Tenn., set to compete on Kentucky Lake for the championship title.

Gallant and McGarry have known each other since kindergarten, and now that they’re graduating high school, they knew this was their last chance to make it to the big show. So, the pair rented a cottage on Sturgeon to prep for the Ontario championship.

With Canadian pro David Chong as their coach, they spent the first three hours of the tournament fishing smallmouth using Megabass and Lucky Craft topwaters and jerkbaits to boat two kicker smallmouth.

“During our pre-fish, we had a great pattern on docks going, but when we returned during the tournament, there was nothing there. We started panicking a bit and decided to punch some slop instead,” said Gallant.

The adjustment resulted in a necessary kicker largemouth in the 4-pound range after deadsticking a light brown gold-flaked tube bait for almost 60 seconds. They rounded out their limit with two on a frog, giving them 15 1/2 pounds and the win.

“I had the opportunity to work with Danny and Cooper before at the 2014 Eastern Divisional in Waddington, N.Y., as juniors,” said Doug Ferguson, youth director of the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation.

“These are two great anglers who bested the field of all juniors in Waddington, and I expect and hope for the same result at the national high school championship in Tennessee.”

Gallant and McGarry are at Kentucky Lake now, and they are in awe.

“When we are out on the lake, we are picturing Kevin VanDam fishing the same spots we were, and thinking how much of a privilege it is to come down here,” said Gallant.

Both anglers said they greatly appreciate the support they’ve received from their parents, the Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation, Doug Ferguson, Laurie Charlebois, past coach Tony Chimirri, and coaches David Chong and Stan Pilarczyk.