Jacksonville Daily Progress
Did you know that one of the fastest growing youth-related movements is high school fishing clubs?
Over a week ago Dale Meeks called to let me know about two young fishermen who had recently fished in an SAF (Student Angler Federation) High School Bass Tournament. Devin Anderson, 14, and Brandon Lavender, 15, from Jacksonville High School competed against 66 teams who represented other high schools all over Texas.
Basically speaking, the SAF is out to promote education through fishing. The aim of SAF is getting students off the couch and back into the great outdoors by promoting the formation of fishing clubs and outdoor activities within the school. This organization has doubled since last year.
On Saturday, March 16, 2013, Anderson and Lavender competed in their first SAF bass tournament at LBJ Lake, near Marble Falls, and finished 6th out of 66 teams. These two young men were two of the youngest who competed. Also they had never seen this lake before the tournament.
At the beginning of their fishing day Anderson and Lavender moved around a lot altering between three fishing areas. The first spot was at the mouth of a cove on a point where the bass were staging up prior to moving in the cove to spawn. That morning the wind wasn’t blowing, and the fish were in a negative mood.
They then moved to a hump located about two miles away, but the bass refused to bite. Around 11:00 o’clock Anderson and Lavender returned to their first spot. By this time the wind was really kicking up. Anderson said, “We began fishing the mouth of the cove on a point where the bass were staging up. The water was beginning to warm up and this had the fish moving. After fishing the bank without a bite we decided to move out about 30 yards. I made a very long cast and began slow reeling the Nichols’ Rattle shad when I hung my largest bass that weighed 7.01 pounds. It took several minutes to land the bass because I was fighting the bass on a seven-foot medium rod and fighting against a heavy wind (25 mph). The fish was full of eggs. During this time Lavender also landed two bass using the Nichols’ Rattle Shad.”
Brandon said, “I really thought it was an 8 or 10 pound bass. My heart was really pumping fast. After Devin caught the seven-pound bass we thought we would be high in the tournament or at least in the top ten.”
Anderson exclaimed, “The whole key to our success was that the wind had to be howling. Whenever the wind was calm we didn’t get bit. We also found some good grass that the fish were holding in – maybe milfoil. The bass seemed to like grass.”
Brandon said, “I missed probably six bass. Either they jumped off and spit it out, or I did something wrong. But overall, I’m proud of what we did. We fished hard all day and never slowed down.”
The two continued to rotate through their three areas, and by two o’clock they had their limit of five bass in the live well.
All their bass were caught using a Nichols® Rattling Shad in a chrome, yellow with a blue belly. Anderson fishes Nichols’ baits often. “I really like their spinner baits, and their top water baits I like real well,” exclaimed Anderson.
Although Anderson is only 14 years old, he is already an avid fisherman. Anderson said, “I love anything about bass fishing. High school bass fishing is very serious. It takes a lot of stamina and physical strength to fish. At the end of the tournament I was very tired and sunburned.”
Anderson and Lavender use top quality equipment. Anderson told me he had about a dozen rods. Anderson said, “I buy myself Docket Micro Magic rods and Shimano Curedo reels. I use different rods for different things. During the tournament Anderson caught his bass on a seven-foot cranking rod. “It really flexed good for fighter fish,” exclaimed Anderson.
Fishing is considered a sport, so both Anderson and Lavender must have a 2.0 GPA and be passing all their classes to be eligible to compete.
Coming in at sixth place with five bass weighing 13.08 pounds was quite an accomplishment. Their stringer was topped off by a 7.01 pound bass that was the fourth largest weighed in that day. If you are interested in the details and results of the tournament, go to www.highschoolfishing.org and check it out there.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org