BRANDON BOONE/BASS FISHING
LaRue County High School will have a Competitive Bass Fishing beginning this spring. Over the last four years, students have expressed genuine interest in the activity. This past school year several meetings with interested students and parents took place to review and organize the club. With the approval of the Board of Education, the LaRue County High School Bass Fishing was formed.
Brandon Boone, a 2001 LCHS graduate, will organize and lead the newly formed Bass Fishing Club, which consists of nine LCHS students (Connor Baker, Austin Burgess, Jack Gustafson, Layne Gribbins, Evan Morris, Darian Morrison, Bryce Neagle, Wyatt Pearman, and Bryson Puyear).
Boone is no stranger to starting a bass fishing club. In fact, he started the Murray State Bass Anglers as a student organization back in 2005. “We started with five guys, and we went to Shreveport, LA that year for nationals. I began competitive bass fishing in middle school with my dad and his work tournament every year. I loved it so much and looked forward to it that it lead me to become interested in the sport.”
Boone continues, “I read everything I could get my hands on, watched the shows, and played fantasy fishing online. Then in college over Christmas break in 2005, I found out that the American Bass Anglers tournament trail had a college division and did not require entry fees. You competed for points throughout the season, and then the top 50 or so individual anglers qualified for nationals at the end of the year.
“Now the Murray St. team has around 40-50 active members and they are one of the top programs in the nation. Back in 2005 when the team was founded, we had to have a faculty advisor to oversee the program, but college bass fishing was new and no professors were willing to jump on board. Therefore, I looked and looked and finally found a nice janitor that was a fishing guide on the side, who was willing to be our faculty advisor.”
So, how does a typical bass tournament go? Boone says, “Competitors pay an entry fee to register, then after eight or so hours of competition, they weigh in their five largest bass. The person/team with the largest cumulative weight wins, and the fish are then released back into the lake. Winnings can be money, boats, prizes, etc. However, with high school and college tournaments, the anglers are not winning prize money. Depending on the specific tournament, they can win scholarship money, prizes, etc. Tournaments now are also much more conscious about keeping the fish alive throughout the entire process, to ensure that tournaments are not negatively affecting the resource.”
Boone has been hard at work getting the LCHS bass fish club going. “The last few months have been very busy getting the program up and running. Anytime something is started from scratch, it is a long learning process. I hope that next year will be a little smoother and easier with 1 year of experience under my belt.”
The Kentucky Bass Network hosts high school tournaments for BASS, while The Bass Federation hosts high school tournaments for FLW and KHSAA. “Learning all the rules and procedures of each has been a little daunting, but we are making it through,” says Boone. “Fortunately, the students and parents have been very patient and supportive as we all figure this out together.
The KBN has a series of tournaments leading up to their state championship, while at the same time The Bass Federation has their own tournaments leading up to their own state championship. The KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) has collaborated with the latter and made their events KHSAA sanctioned events. There are also open events all over the country and individual high schools host their own tournaments all around Kentucky. Boone adds, “I cannot attest to this, but other coaches have stated that Kentucky has the second most active high school bass fishing program in the country, with Texas being the first.”
High School students are not allowed to drive the outboard motor. As a result, each boat of two students is required to have a boat captain present to operate the motor and chaperone the students. Eligible captains must be background checked by the high school and have proof of insurance for their boat. The boat must be a minimum of 16 feet, propeller-driven, have a working live well, and have a working engine kill-switch. To participate in KBN events the students must have a BASS membership, and to participate in TBF events they must have a TBF/SAF membership. Anyone under 16 years old is exempt from having a KY fishing license, but those 16 and older are required to have one.
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