Ray Scott, creator of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S., aka Bassmaster), was a visionary, and dreamed of placing, “The sport of bass fishing to its rightful place in the first rank of American sports.” To say the least, it was a lofty goal, but history shows he had a gut instinct that was spot on.
Today across America, bass fishing tournaments exist wherever bass lurk in the waters. Furthermore, hundreds of colleges and universities have bass fishing teams equipped with sponsors and national championship tournaments. The sport has even trickled down into high school fishing. Hundreds of high schools also taut bass fishing teams that also include national championships, and it is growing like wildfire.
High School Fishing Possibilities and Opportunities
Just 10 years ago, it was inconceivable to gain a college scholarship for fishing, but not any longer. “I hope to become a professional bass angler,” admits 16-year old Niko Romero, “but I plan to compete on a fishing team in college first.” The Prescott, Arizona, high school junior is cashing in on the benefits of the high school team and is poised to do just that.
His experiences with his high school fishing club have given him invaluable experience. As a member of the Arizona Bass Nation, it has already taken him from Arizona to Kentucky Lake, Tennessee; Clear Lake, California; Pickwick Lake, Alabama; Hamilton Lake, Arkansas; and others. He also confesses that he has already narrowed down his college list to four schools.
High School Fishing Tournament Challenges
According to Romero, the biggest challenge for a high school team is getting boats to use. “The rules are about the same as any tournament: 12-inch size limit, 5-fish limit, etc.” However, students, coaches, and sponsors must find local anglers willing to give up a weekend day to chaperone an unknown teenager on their boat.
Some communities have great bodies of water close by, but not Romero. His fishing team faces another challenge. “I’m from Southeast Arizona, so we have to drive 2-3 hours to reach our lakes – Bartlett, Havasu, Roosevelt, and Pleasant Lakes.” But the sacrifice has been well worth it.
“There are a lot of life skills in fishing,” says Romero. “I am very competitive and losing motivates me to not lose the next time. It has established a work ethic that will help me in life.” He has not been lulled into the electronic world with other teenagers, “Video games are all the same,” he claims, “but every day of fishing is different. I feel it is more realistic than video games.”
High School Fishing Tournament Scoring
While variations across states and schools exist, Romero’s club competes in five tournaments. A point system is used to calculate the top teams. The top two teams from the Arizona Bass Nation qualify for the National Championship. Last year, Romero went to Kentucky Lake for Nationals where 337 teams competed, and they came from all over the world. It is also possible to qualify for the Junior World Cup in conjunction with FLW’s Forest Wood Cup.
Support for High School Fishing
Romero’s support begins with his family. “When I was 7-years old, I caught my first bass on a drop shot rig, and it was “on” ever since,” reminisced Romero. “Shortly after that, I asked my dad, ‘When can we do a tournament?’ He answered, ‘When you can tie your own knot.’” That took two days. While his father got him hooked on fishing, his mother has helped groomed him in other ways. “She is the one who has helped me develop on social media. That’s her expertise. She taught me how to be professional and how to behave appropriately online.” He has a big following on Facebook, Instagram, and a personal Website, That Kid Niko.
While many teenagers gravitate to cell phones and other electronic devices, there are other interests growing that are less talked about. The interest in bass fishing is undeniable.
Megaware continues its support of getting adolescents involved in the outdoors and encourages everyone to find ways to get involved. And when you do, be sure to protect your investment with our line of protective products. You can find them all online or in most major national retailers.