Orange County blazed high school fishing trail

Orange County, Va.--The foundation of today’s high school bass clubs can be traced back to one of the pioneer clubs.

After her husband died and her children went off to college, Orange County High School teacher Becky Gore needed something to lift her spirits. So in 1999 she formed the Orange County High School (OCHS) Anglers, which became one of the first high school clubs of the Junior Bassmaster program. “It was a way for me to get outside and I had those kids who were all upbeat,” Gore said. “So there was no way I could get in a funk because I had all this positive energy around me.”

Many of the club’s charter members joined the military after graduating from Orange County. “I am so proud of them I don’t know what to do,” Gore said of her original club members. She noted charter members Michael Rose is a Navy Seal, John Carr just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Marines and Josiah Donaldson is an Air Force officer. Charter members Will Seymour is a graduate of Shenandoah University with an environmental science degree and Danny Grayson is an administrative accountant who graduated from The College of William and Mary.

The school recognized the value of the fishing club and allowed the club to award varsity athletic letters in about 2001, according to Gore. The club started its annual OCHS Anglers Sportsman’s Expo in 2003 and club member Ben Bresnahan is credited with instituting a line recycling program at Virginia lakes. Club member Jacob Dodson also started a project setting up soft plastic recycling canisters at Buggs Island, Lake Orange and Lake Anna.

One of the club’s top accomplishments was receiving the Most Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter award in 2004.

Gore believes her club was also instrumental in helping some students stay in school. “I had a 100 percent graduation rate and up until about 2007 I had 100 percent (of the graduates) go to the military, a trade school or college,” she said. “I really emphasized to them if they wanted to buy a bass boat they were going to have to have an education.”

Although she has retired from teaching and as advisor of the Orange County club, Gore continues to promote high school fishing as the Virginia B.A.S.S. Nation youth director. “Very much of what is being done on a national level now is exactly what my design was with Orange County High School,” she said. “I insisted on conservation and public or community service projects and there was a lot more structure in my program. We just didn’t fish every other month or so, we fished every weekend.”

Beth Dodson, Alan Ellinger and Greg Grayson have replaced Gore as the advisors of the OCHS Anglers club. For more information about the club, visit www.ochsanglers.com.