Twelve special high school anglers from across the country got the chance of a lifetime to fish with Bassmaster Elite Series pros during the High School All-American event on Tennessee’s Lake Barkley Saturday, and Pierre Part’s Cliff Crochet helped make it an extra-special day for his partner.
The Cajun Baby teamed up with Zeke Gossett, an Alabama angler representing Pell City High School, and won the one-day event with a 14 pound, 2 ounce sack.
“We caught all of our fish with a Strike King Hack Attack Swim Jig with a Rage Menace trailer on it, just swimming it super shallow,” Gossett said. “It was a blast. I learned a ton from the shallow water specialist.”
Crochet said he had a great day, not just fishing on Lake Barkley, but also spending time with the accomplished group of young anglers.
“It’s not just a fishing deal how they were selected,” Crochet said. “It was grades and community service, all that rolled in. All 12 of these kids achieved real high, and I think that’s a cool thing.”
Only 12 anglers were selected from a pool of more than 200 nominees to be a part of the 2015 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. The high school anglers traveled from all over the country to Lake Barkley, from as far west as Arizona and Colorado and as far east as New Hampshire.
The pros were equally as impressed with the kids, and were excited about the future of professional fishing with kids so skilled at such a young age.
“I think this is one of the most awesome programs,” Elite Series pro Gary Klein said. “This was the age I started a professional career, at 15. I’m really impressed with these kids. My partner, Trevor Yates from Oklahoma, is absolutely a phenomenal individual, an awesome angler and very passionate about the sport.”
Pro Mark Menendez also enjoyed the day, adding that it was about more than just fishing.
“These 12 All-American kids that you see here, not only are they fantastic fishermen; they have been guided by their parents and their loved ones to do the right things in life, they’re good students, and they’re doing things for our community,” Menendez said. “If we can do that through fishing, we’re building better people.”