Competitive bass fishing draws young, talented group
A new club has been added to the list of Minnehaha sports: bass fishing. A group of six, eighth-and ninth-grade boys from Minnehaha have just created the school’s first bass fishing team coached by Minnehaha elementary school teacher Jeff Bosshardt.
“There are seven tournaments but we are only eligible to compete in two because of the skyrocket in the amount of teams this year,” said freshman captain Berkley Duckson.
“The number of competitors has gone from 18 participants in 2013 to over 550 participants in 2017,” said B.A.S.S. youth director Jeff Gilmer. “The number of participants is growing year by year.”
“Bass fishing is considered a sport all over the country with all of the high school fishing clubs and tournaments,” said president of Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation Peter Perovich. “It has exploded and is being accepted in many states as a sanctioned high school sport.”
“I have competed in national bass fishing tournaments myself,” said Bosshardt, “but this is a high school fishing tournament and it is a little different than what I competed in. Duckson was really the one that talked me into it and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“Bass fishing is considered a sport throughout junior high, high school and college, where you can receive a full scholarship on the fishing team,” said Gilmer. There are an estimated 610 college bass fishing teams in the United States. “In Minnesota bass fishing is a club sport, while in other states it is an official high school sport.”
There are approximately 200 high school teams as well as 75 junior high teams in Minnesota competing this year.
A team consists of two students, grades 9-12, in a boat along with a guardian or coach.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) only allows 50 boats in a single tournament because they don’t have enough resources to host everyone at the same tournament.
The team will compete in the Clearwater tournament on July 14 and at Lake Minnetonka on July 28. The championship will be on September 10 at Lake Washington.
“There are two competitors in the boat as well as an adult that is running the boat. All the fishing decisions are really left up to them,” said Bosshardt.
In Minnesota bass fishing tournaments, the only fish worth points are the largemouth and smallmouth bass.
“There is a five fish limit, and at the end of the day you weigh your best bass then let it go,” said Duckson.
“You have to maintain your fish because if you bring up dead fish there is a weight penalty,” said freshman William Hite, who has high hopes to possibly win one of the two tournaments.”
“Before the tournament we might have a team meeting to talk over strategies,” said freshman Will Wamre. “We will probably go on Google Earth and scope out the lake and even go on Wednesday and Thursday before to get a feel for it.”
Bosshardt thinks the team will have a practice outing before the tournament to prepare for the rules and handling the fish before the tournament.
“There isn’t any required experience in fishing but you probably want to have some because we will be out there about eight hours a day,” said Bosshardt.
The team operates under an organization called Minnesota Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) Federation.
B.A.S.S. was created in Mississippi in 1968 by Ray Scott to promote and encourage fishing.
The community is united by a sense of camaraderie and a spirit of belonging to something unique carries on from generation to generation.
The Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation started in 1975. The name has gone through a series of changes since.
From Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation, to Minnesota B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, to what they are today Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation.
Minnesota Junior B.A.S.S. is a nonprofit that was created five years ago for the purpose of providing the opportunity for high school and junior high students to participate in competitive fishing.
It also provides an education in conservation, the outdoors, volunteer activities and other educational areas about fishing.
The $50 fee that each team member has to pay goes to an insurance program that provides $1 million liability coverage for sanctioned club events. A member also receives a subscription to B.A.S.S Times. The $50 cost does not include the fishing gear and jersey that they will have for the tournament.
The group of six boys hope to have fun in the tournaments they are in while competing to the best of their abilities.
“All of us team members think we are the most skilled fisherman, but we will have to figure that out this summer,” said Wamre.
The strategies they use are classified but there is no doubt in their minds that the methods will work during tournaments.
The team received a sponsorship from Maui Jim and hopes to keep growing and gain more members to compete in the future.