Illinois' Nathan Doty enjoys sportsmanship side of fishing

DECATUR, Ill. — Fishing has been a part of Nathan Doty’s life ever since he was a toddler.

“I actually caught my first crappie when I was 2 years old and I have been fishing ever since,” said Doty, a junior on the Sangamon Valley High School bass fishing team.

“He has been fishing since he was in diapers,” said Jason Doty, Nathan’s dad and coach of the Sangamon Valley High team. “It is just something he loves doing, and if he has any free time, he is going fishing.

“It doesn’t matter if it is a local stream, river or a lake or pond; he just loves to spend time fishing.”

The 16-year-old Doty recalls he started targeting bass when he was 9 and began competing in Fishers of Men Legacy tournaments at the age of 10.

“In spring 2014 — the first year our school had a competitive bass fishing team — my partner and I won the AOBI, a local fundraising bass tournament,” Doty said. “The field consisted of more than 90 boats and more than 180 high school competitors.”

His high school bass fishing accomplishments include a third-place finish in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Sectional Championship last April and finishing 16th out of 66 teams in the IHSA Bass Fishing Championship in May.

The latest high school highlight for Doty is making the Bassmaster High School All-State team for Illinois.

“It has been a pretty cool experience,” he said. “I have had people come up to congratulate me and say they have seen me on Bassmaster.com. It’s cool knowing other people have seen that as well.”

Fishing on a high school team has taught Doty about sportsmanship and having fun on the water.

“It’s a sport that you are supposed to have fun and not be too competitive,” he said. “It is competitive still, but it’s just being out there having fun.”

Doty also enjoys sharing the fun of the sport with other young anglers.

“Prior to high school, I volunteered to help elementary students three years in a row during a one-day fishing derby,” Doty said. “I offered assistance and provided instruction on tying knots, selecting equipment, casting, hook removal and proper fishing etiquette.”

The Illinois angler wants to attend a college with a bass fishing team, but he is unsure of his plans after college.

“I kind of want to be a PE teacher, but also I want to start a guide service or something,” he said.