Minnesota angler starts school fishing team; reaches National Championship

Nick Blood assists an angler during the 2017 Carhartt College National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Minnesota angler Nick Blood always loved to fish. But he didn’t know about the bass fishing tournament world until 2017 when he volunteered to help at the Bassmaster College National Championship at Lake Bemidji in his home state.

This week, four years after his first tournament experience, Blood and his partner Aidan O’Donnell competed at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors at Lake Chickamauga representing Holy Family Catholic High School, a team Blood founded.

Blood, now a rising senior, stumbled upon the 2017 College Championship when he was leaving his cabin one day. Curious, he investigated further and wanted to see how he could help out.

“I met Hank (Weldon) at Lake Bemidji,” Blood said. “I was up in my cabin and drove by and saw all these tents were set up. They got me volunteering and I helped run the fish tanks. I always liked to bass fish, but never in Minnesota had I seen a big tournament. Then we saw the College Series up there and I grew a love for tournament fishing.”

With some guidance from Weldon, Blood returned to his school and immediately started work on his school’s fishing program. 

Blood also gives credit to other teammates that contributed to getting the team going including his team partner Aidan O’Donnell, recruitment of coach Jim O’Donnell, and other team founding players, Owen Lund, Sawyer Schugel, Jans, Theis, Pearson and Rice.  Without everyone’s help and contributions, there’s no way we’d be where we are today.

The original founding team photo taken in 2018.

“The difficult part was reaching out to sponsors and finding kids that want to enjoy fishing and love the sport,” Blood said.

The Holy Family Catholic High School fishing team started with five teams, but has grown over 20 teams as of the 2021 season.

As he was building the team, Blood was also honing his fishing skills and learning the ropes as a tournament bass angler.

“I’d be on the water all the time and always researching fishing and watching videos and pros,” he said. “We qualified for state two years in a row and missed qualifying for Nationals by a pound. This year we finally made it and it is super nice to be down here and enjoy it and see how big it is down here and stuff.”

While he and O’Donnell only caught a limit on the first day of the High School National Championship this week, Blood has enjoyed the whole experience and has met a lot of new friends along the way.

“I’ve been able to bond with all the other fishermen,” he said. “At the hotel we are all outside rigging together and talking. All the guys are great guys. That has been my best experience, meeting guys from all over and just talking fishing.”