GADSDEN, Ala. — Twelve outstanding high school anglers lived a dream by competing in the Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament, held during the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake.
The students are members of the exclusive Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. Each angler was paired with a Bassmaster Elite Series pro for the exhibition held Sunday on Weiss Lake, part of the Coosa River system. The weigh-in was held on the Bassmaster Elite Series stage used by the pros at Coosa Landing in Downtown Gadsden.
Editor's note: See more All-American photos.
The team of Elite Series pro Quentin Cappo, of Prairieville, La., and All-American Carter Doren, of Las Vegas, Nev., weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces to take the win. The pair used a wacky-rigged Senko to flip docks on a muddy Weiss Lake.
“Coming from out West, I've never fished water this color before," explained Doren. This has been a big year for the junior who also took home the 2020 Big Bass Zone Junior Championship title. "Fishing here is just completely different."
“I love going out with the All-Americans and seeing the enthusiasm they have for fishing," said Cappo. "They all bring the same passion to an exhibition derby as an Elite Series pro does competing for $100,000. And every time I go out with a member of the All-American team we learn something from each other."
Doren credits Cappo with spending the day teaching him more about positioning the boat and throwing a buzzbait.
Elite Series pro Darold Gleason of Many, La., and Mitchell Straffon, a junior from Fenton High School in Fenton, Mich., took second with 7-6.
“I learned so much from Darold," said Straffon. "Before coming to Neely Henry, I had never fished a shad spawn."
Qualification criteria for All-American Team underscores the prestige and popularity of the program. Over 300 applications nominating students in grades 10-12 were submitted from 34 states across the nation. Of these, 47 students were chosen as Bassmaster All-State anglers. After considering tournament résumés, conservation efforts, community service activities and recommendations from school officials and coaches, a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the sportfishing industry, media and conservation groups further narrowed the field to the Top 12 high school anglers in the country.
Doren won four tournaments in the 2020 tournament season, including the BBZ JC National Championship. Additionally, Doren was the 2020 Co-Angler of the Year for the Nevada Bass Anglers, an adult fishing club, where he placed in the Top 5 multiple times. Off the water, he is the social media director for his high school’s fishing club and is working to develop the local adult fishing club’s social media presence as well. And, although he is only a junior, Doren has already received a $38,000 scholarship to Bethel University for fishing.
Doren has also developed and run a fishing seminar for high school kids at his local pond, where he helped give away rods, reels and baits to youth and junior anglers who did not have the proper equipment. He has also volunteered with Bass Pros Shops’ Bluegill Tank teaching local children about catch-and-release techniques.
Students from the Boys & Girls Club of Gadsden enjoyed a shopping spree in Academy Sports + Outdoors before attending a fishing clinic taught by the All-American anglers earlier in the week. Following the clinic, the All-Americans attended an awards banquet, where they received commemorative tournament jerseys and a gift card from Academy Sports + Outdoors. All events were held at the store in Gadsden.
2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament
Carter Doren - Quentin Cappo 8-8
Mitchell Straffon - Darold Gleason 7-4
Tyson Verkaik - Cody Hollen 7-2
Zachary Ward - Clifford Pirch 5-8
Turner Hart - Skylar Hamilton 4-3
Cole Moulton - Rob Digh 3-2
Hunter Keller - Brett Preuett 2-11
Hayden Marbut - Tyler Rivet 1-15
Carter Dunn - Shane Lineberger 1-7
Laindree Richards - Justin Hamner 1-5
Alexis Grandstaff - Randy Pierson 1-6
Cole Rountree - Lee Livesay 0-0