Texas B.A.S.S. Club wins conservation award

The Magnolia-Tomball Bass Club, a B.A.S.S. Federation Nation affiliate in southeastern Texas, has been tapped to receive the 2010 Berkley Angler Recruitment and Retention Award from the Berkley Conservation Institute.

The award comes with $1,500 in Berkley products. The club will receive the award during the 2012 Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., in February.

The Magnolia-Tomball Bass Club was recognized for its part in founding the Ignition Bass Youth Fishing League. Several club members approached Ignition Bass in 2009 with the idea for a youth program that involved competition. Ignition Bass agreed to take on the project with the oversight of a board of directors for the nonprofit youth circuit.

The Ignition Bass Youth Fishing League now has four age divisions and six regular-season tournament events with an average of 27 anglers competing in each event. To date, a total of $8,400 has been awarded as $1,000 and $500 savings bonds and Academy Sports + Outdoors gift cards. Kids in the league are taught catch-and-release and how to keep bass alive; in three years of tournament fishing, only two dead fish have been brought in by the kids.

Jim Brockman, tournament director for Ignition Bass, runs the Youth Fishing League on a volunteer basis. He was a member of the Magnolia-Tomball Bass Club when it hit on the idea to ask an established organization to “do something for the kids,” Brockman said.

“And that’s how it got started. Members of the Magnolia-Tomball Bass Club volunteer their time and their boats if needed for the kids who don’t have a boat,” he said.

Most of the kids who participate are Texans, although two travel from Louisiana. The program reaches about 55 kids over a season, although many of the kids take part in every event of the season.

The effort to bring kids into the sport is paying off. Two are actively involved in starting a high school fishing team. Several kids now fish local team tournaments with their dad.

“We’ve got some real gung-ho kids,” Brockman said.

Winning the award was a pleasant surprise to Brockman, who proposed to parents and the board that he submit an entry in the annual Berkley Conservation Institute competition.

“We didn’t know if we could win, but we decided it wouldn’t hurt to try,” he said. “We are proud of the fact that the program was recognized by Berkley.”

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