Climbing the ladder

By Logan Parks

When I started the fishing team with Lucas Lindsay, we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know anything about tournaments or the difference between pond and lake fishing. It’s truly amazing how far we’ve come and how far this program has come. The team started with nine members and has now grown thirty-two members strong with twelve boats actively competing in every tournament. We have learned a lot over the past three years fishing with Darrel High and other boat captains. My partner and I had a rough start with several zeroes, but we’ve slowly climbed the ladder. This past year has been a great one for us, including 2nd place Anglers of the Year (AOY) title in Alabama and 3rd place in the nation. I’m glad I’ve found something I love to do and can compete at while doing it. They say God gives everyone a talent and I believe I’ve found mine.

It was the beginning of 8th grade and I was at a new school when the fishing team first started. The junior high was intimidating and confusing. Huge buildings towered over me and I had no clue where the “300 Building” was. I vividly remember walking with Lucas into Mr. Morgan’s classroom and being blown away with color. His walls were like a mural, covered with historical posters of all different races and ethnicities. The room smelled of old books, due to his shelves being lined with them. The world history textbooks were covered in dust and probably hadn’t been opened in 20 years. It was quite obvious what he taught, but we weren’t there for history lessons. We came to Mr. Morgan proposing the idea of creating a fishing team. He loved this idea and jumped on board to get it started. Coach Morgan didn’t have a spring sport and loved to fish so he talked to Dr. Pignato, the principal, and set everything up. The fishing team wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for Coach.

It was a dream come true and we couldn’t believe it: my partner and I qualified for the national championship.

It all started at 5 a.m. that morning when we backed the boat in the lake and prepared to go fishing. The thirty-seven degree weather chilled us to the bone as we waited in the boat for blast off. I saw my breath with every exhale as if snowflakes were coming from my lungs. After waiting in line for blast off, they called our boat number and we began our frigid voyage. As we raced to the fishing spot, the wind was ice. It cut right through our clothes and instantly chilled our bodies.

Despite the weather being less than ideal, everything came together that day for a solid finish on a notoriously tough lake. Lucas and I powered through the cold to take 6th place in the Costa Bassmaster High School Open on Lake Martin. We brought 11 pounds, 8 ounces to the scales and that secured our spot among the anglers from Alabama that would go to Nationals. Lucas and I began to focus on Kentucky Lake with a ticket to Nationals in our hands.

It was the 3rd and final day of Nationals and I set into a hoss of a fish. The 5.5-pound largemouth bass fought ferociously and did everything possible to shake the hook out. She exploded out of the lake, polluting the air with sprays of water and milfoil. I winched the fish up beside the boat and she sprang from the water once more. This time, my worst fear came true and I watched in horror as the bass shook her head and threw the spinner bait from her mouth. My heart dropped as she started her descent, unhooked, back towards the murky water. All of the sudden, Lucas extended his arm out and caught the fish in the net. We both let out a yell that could be heard for miles and did a victory dance as we put her in the boat. Lucas and I knew that was the final fish we needed to place 3rd in the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship. Lucas Lindsay and Logan Park shared a $1,750 scholarship.

My partner and I have come a long way since the beginning and wouldn’t be who we are now without the fishing team. We had a great season this year including three top ten finishes and a 2nd place AOY trophy. None of these moments, or the team, would have been possible without all the help we’ve received along the way. All of our boat captains have been amazingly helpful in the growth of our knowledge and skill. The team continues to grow under the direction of our new coach, Mr. Stan Arrington. Who knows where this program will go and what we will accomplish in the years ahead.