What kid doesn’t love fishing from the bank with a worm and a bobber? For some, dunking worms and catching bluegills can lead to a more sporting angle – competitive bass fishing.
Bass fishing can be exciting. Bass get big. They jump and fight when hooked.
And the local competition can be challenging. A Hurricane High School team from the school’s bass fishing club placed third out of 56 teams at a B.A.S.S. Nation tournament on the Monongahela River at Fairmont on Oct. 8.
Braiden Powell, a senior, and Paxton Gordon, a sophomore, brought home $120 in winnings from the tournament. The money goes into the club’s treasury, said B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia Youth Director Dana Brown.
“The money goes into a kitty to help pay entry fees, and also for lure building supplies,” Brown said.
Brown said all four high schools in Putnam County have bass fishing clubs affiliated with B.A.S.S Nation. “Hurricane currently has about six members,” he said. “Winfield is the largest this year, with 16 members. Poca and Buffalo have from six to 10 members each.”
In addition to fishing, the clubs support conservation projects on the state’s lakes and rivers, and they hold educational classes. Projects include activities such as improving boat ramps, clearing up water and adding fish habitat.
Educational activities include seminars on boating safety, fishing techniques and lure making.
“A lot of clubs build pour their own plastics for soft plastic lures,” Brown said.
A statement on the wvbassnation.org website says the goal of the B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia youth program is “to promote and encourage youth fishing and a passion for this great recreation, fisheries conservation, sportsmanship, improving our communities and sponsoring projects and events that fulfill these goals.”
The youth division can lead to competition on the national level. There are colleges throughout the country that offer collegiate bass fishing and even scholarships.
“Some kids don’t have athletic ability,” said Brown. “Bass tournaments give them an outlet for healthy competition. It’s also a non-contact sport. One of our club members is a former football player. He got injured and can’t play football anymore, but he can still fish from a boat.”
The club emphasizes safety. “When they are on the water, the youth members always have an adult boat coach. He drives the boat. The members operate the trolling motor and do the fishing.”
Rules apply to boat coaches the same as with sports coaches. “During the fishing time, the coach is not allowed to offer advice or instruction on their fishing. Each boat is allowed eight time-outs. These are the same as time-outs in a game. That’s the only time a coach can share information with them,” Brown said.
Brown added that B.A.S.S. Nation clubs are always looking for help from local businesses. “I encourage the members to seek sponsors,” he said.
Brown, who lives at Buckhannon, competes on the Bassmaster Classic trail. He recently fished a tournament on Bluestone Lake.
“Typically, during a tournament, I’ll make 1,000 casts a day. By the end of the day, I’m usually so tired I can’t lift my arms.”
To some, that might sound extreme, but Brown shrugs it off.
“Fishing is an addiction for me,” he said.
For more information about joining a youth club, call Dana Brown at 304-613-6133, or send email to email@example.com.
Metro editor Robert Saunders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-348-5160.