(Jun 6, 2015 - Paris, TN)
Bassmaster Elite Series pros and the nation’s best high school anglers fished side-by-side Saturday in the inaugural Bassmaster High School All-American event, as part of Zippo Bassmaster BASSfest presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps.
The new program was created to reward young anglers who have gone above and beyond — on the water in competition, as well as off the water in school, leadership and community service — and to let them learn from the nation’s best professional anglers.
The consensus at the conclusion of the fun-fishing derby on Tennessee’s Lake Barkley was that the pros learned from the high schoolers, too.
“It was an inspiration to be around these young anglers,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin Ledoux. “It’s great to see that these smart, skilled anglers are the future of our sport.”
The 12 high school anglers were paired by random draw with 12 pros who volunteered their time.
Zeke Gossett, an Alabama angler representing Pell City High School, won the one-day event with his Elite Series partner, Cliff Crochet. The pair caught 14 pounds, 2 ounces.
“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,” said Gossett. “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 young anglers.
“It’s not just a fishing deal how they were selected,” said Crochet. “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.”
All of the pros shared his sentiment, and many said they are excited about the future of professional fishing with aspiring pros being so skilled at such a young age.
“I think this is one of the most awesome programs,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gary Klein. “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.”
“What we’re doing here in fishing and what B.A.S.S. is doing is building better people,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez.
“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,” continued Menendez. “If we can do that through fishing, we’re building better people.”
“Thanks to all the pros, especially my partner, Keith Poche, for taking me out today, and to B.A.S.S. for putting this on,” said Nick Montilino of Edina High School in Minnesota, who placed second in the competition. “It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”
Only 12 young 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.
Read profiles of each of the Bassmaster High School All-American anglers at Bassmaster.com/High-School and look for more on them in the next issue of Bassmaster Magazine.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines, Bassmaster website, television show , social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.