Some of my fondest memories growing up were fishing with my dad. I guess it’s that way for a lot of anglers out there, but I really have great parents. Dad and I spent many hours in the boat together and through that time I learned a lot. Usually it was with me up front in control of the boat – not because he didn’t want control but because he wanted me to develop my skills. Now I am not claiming to be the greatest angler out there, but I have had some accomplishments that I am proud of in my career.
I wouldn’t be fishing my first Bassmaster Classic next month without both of my parents. From dad and I fishing buddy tournaments together, to driving all over the state fishing the Junior B.A.S.S. Nation program or just allowing me the use of his boat, my father helped propel me to where I am today. His sacrifices didn’t come cheap; he gave up a lot just so I could pursue my dream of being a professional fisherman. For that I am extremely grateful.
Besides fishing one thing my father has taught me through example is how important the younger generation of a sport can be to its success. It doesn’t matter if its basketball or fishing, if you aren’t teaching and growing that younger generation things can go downhill fast. Working and teaching the younger generation not only makes them better anglers, but it also helps the sport as a whole. They will be long-term tackle buyers and at the same time will be good stewards of the water if we teach them right. My point is, it helps full circle and that’s why I think it’s vitally important that we get involved.
Hopefully if you are a high school student reading this article your school already has a team in place. If so and you have any interest in bass fishing, I strongly suggest you go sign up. How cool is it to represent your school while bass fishing? That’s right pretty dang cool. If your school doesn’t have a team there are still some things that you can do. The full details on how to start a team at your high school can be found at Bassmaster.com. Go under the “Tournament” section and click on “High School.” Basically what you need is: a minimum of two team members, complete your school’s requirements to become an official organization on campus, and then a faculty advisor or faculty member who is willing to be assigned to the team. That will get you started and then the rest is just simple details.
I know some of you reading this are thinking, “Well I am certainly not in high school anymore, and I don’t even have a child near that age.” That’s okay because you can still be a huge part of the high school fishing program. I know firsthand that what most schools need are boat captains. To be a boat captain, usually all it takes is a background check and you are good to go. Many people are not interested in giving up the occasional Saturday to take out some high school students, but you could be missing out on a pretty rewarding experience. Who knows, you might take an upcoming Elite Series pro out on the water.
Beyond being a captain, high school teams usually have practices just like the basketball team. A few that I have worked with in my home state of Kentucky will have map study practices, on the water practices or just flipping and pitching practice behind the school. Talk with your local high school fishing coach and see what areas they need help in the most and get involved with something that can better our sport.