Bass Fishing: The Newest High School Sport Taking The Country By Storm


Tom Lowrance, Staff Writer

Over the past decade, a new sport has taken hold of the country, especially in the South. However, this is no conventional sport, involving sweaty practices and large teams. Many high schools have formed organized clubs that come together to compete in bass fishing tournaments against other schools in their region. Normally seen as a casual pastime, these tournaments take fishing and make it a competitive sport. 

Mirroring professional adult tournament organizations, such as Major League Fishing, the BASSMASTER organization has set up numerous tournament trails for high school students across the country. The tournament trails are set up to last the entirety of a school year, averaging about one tournament every month. The Palmetto Boat Center sponsors the main BASSMASTER tournament trail every year in South Carolina. This year there are 27 schools that have teams registered to compete so far. 

Although the rules and regulations of each tournament vary across the country, they all have similar formats. All tournaments have a designated slot of time that high school anglers are allowed to fish. If fishermen are late to return to the boat landing after the end designated time, then they face penalties against their end score. Most tournaments have a certain number of fish that anglers are allowed to bring to the weigh-in, known as a “bag”. For high school tournaments, the bag is five fish, whereas for middle school tournaments it’s only three fish. Even if a team catches more than five keeper fish during a tournament, they can only keep the largest five. If this happens, anglers must “cull” out their smaller catches to get the heaviest bag possible. 

These tournaments also work to instill a sense of independence within the high school participants. Most teams consist of two young fishermen and one captain over the age of twenty one. However, the tournament regulations attempt to limit what a captain can do to assist the anglers. For example, the captains are never allowed to fish, nor can they assist the anglers in netting their catch. Furthermore, many tournaments encourage the fishermen to develop their skills with the trolling motor rather than the captain. With regulations such as these, the organizations running these tournament trails hope that the young anglers will become more independent on the water, relying less on a more experienced adult.

Christ Church has had a bass fishing club since 2018, created by Coach Aaron Whited, and has been participating in tournaments ever since. This year, Christ Church will be participating in six tournaments, with a possible qualifying tournament at the end of the year. The first tournament is on the 25th of this month at Lake Wateree, Northeast of Columbia. The other lakes that the Cavaliers will be fishing this year are Lake Wylie, Lake Hartwell, Lake Keowee, Lake Murray, and Clarks Hill. 

One nice thing about this club is the little commitment that it requires. Unlike most sports, it’s not a big deal if you miss a tournament. For serious fishermen trying to qualify for the Classic in Lanier, Georgia at the end of this year, missing tournaments might hurt their chances, but more casual anglers can pick and choose which tournaments they attend.

Another perk of being a member of the Christ Church Bass Fishing club is the cool merch that you can order! Every year participants have an opportunity to order shirts, hats, and many other items to represent the bass fishing team. Additionally, all tournament participants get a customized professional – style fishing jersey to wear when they’re out on the water. 

Whether you’re an experienced fisherman trying to win some tournaments or are a beginner looking to get into the sport, the bass fishing club is a fun, low-commitment option to do so. If interested in joining, just talk to myself, Finch Vergnolle, Harris Clark, Thomas Clark, or Coach Whited to get more information. It is a ton of fun and is a great way to get some fishing in during the school year.