Along with more traditional sports like football, baseball, basketball and track, you can add bass fishing to the mix of extra-curricular options available to kids at several high schools across the state.
The Bassmaster High School Series is now in its second year, and Bass Nation state youth director Eugene Hoover said participation has doubled in 2015.
“Last year we had a state tournament, and our winners went to the national tournament in Tennessee, and they ended up placing 8th nationally, and each kid won a $1,000 scholarship, and that was just our first year participating,” Hoover said. “So we’re real excited about that.”
This year, B.A.S.S. Nation-affiliated high school teams in Louisiana will be eligible to fish two qualifying tournaments - one on the Calcasieu River on Feb. 21 and a second on Bayou Segnette on March 29 - plus the state championship tournament in the Atchafalaya Basin on May 2.
Additionally, Hoover said, B.A.S.S.-registered kids can fish the 2015 Bassmaster High School Central Open, slated for March 14 at Toledo Bend.
“Top finishers at the open will automatically qualify for the 2015 High School Bassmaster National Championship on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee in June,” he said.
The Top 10 at the Calcasieu River, Bayou Segnette and Toledo Bend events will automatically qualify for the state tournament in the Basin. The 50-boat field will be rounded out by compiling points earned by teams from all three locations.
“The goal is to get kids to the national tournament, where they can win up to $40,000 in scholarships and a possible boat,” he said.
With the Calcasieu River qualifier only weeks away, Hoover said there was still time for new high school teams to get registered and come onboard.
“We want kids to fish, so we’re accepting people turning their stuff in all the way up until our first tournament,” he said. “If you miss that, you can fish the Open if you’ve registered with B.A.S.S. by about March 7.
“But if you haven’t sent your paperwork in and you don’t have a number for your high school, you can’t fish the open. Allow about a week for processing of the paperwork.”
Bassmaster requires a minimum of two kids from a school join the team, and an adult faculty member or parent must serve as club advisor. Boat captains must be at least 18 and have a $300,000 liability policy. The cost per team member is $20, and includes subscriptions to Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times.
Additionally, more information can be obtained, including registration forms for upcoming tournaments, by visiting the Louisiana High School Bass Fishing page on Facebook by clicking here.
Jeff Cox, a school board member in Livingston Parish, said he hopes to raise awareness of the program so more students across Louisiana can participate.
“They have so many schools in the state that I don’t think even realize this is out there,” Cox said. “I’m on the school board in Livingston Parish, and it’s all about the kids to us, whether it’s here in our parish or kids across Louisiana. Any school can get in it.
“And what we found out is a lot of these kids that are fishing now are not your football players, your basketball players or your baseball players — they’re touching a whole different group of kids. And now these kids have opportunities for college scholarships.”