High school fishing arrives

Setting the hook on a college scholarship is close to becoming a reality for high school age fishermen in North Dakota. A state tournament for high school age fishermen is already scheduled for June 2 at Nelson Lake.

High school fishing is growing rapidly elsewhere in the United States, particularly in southern states. Now the enthusiasm has moved north. South Dakota held a State High School bass fishing tournament a year ago.

When asked about high school fishing in North Dakota Paul Reinbold of Dickinson, president of the Badlands Bass Bandits, said his group is “just kind of starting to put it together.” It is his hope that high school fishing will prove to be as popular in North Dakota as it is at many places in the U.S.

“I just think getting kids out in the outdoors is good,” said Reinbold. “This is a great way to educate them in the outdoors, the conservation side of it.”

While high school fishing is in its infancy in North Dakota, there are already some high school students eyeing the opportunity to become part of a growing national trend. A key development was the Bass Bandits affiliating with The Bass Federation, a national fishing organization that eagerly promotes high school fishing.

No high schools in North Dakota have yet to be formally approached about including fishing as a school activity. However, says Reinbold, several high school age fishermen have already indicated they want to participate in competitive bass fishing.

“Last year we had the guys from eastern Montana fishing with us and high school kids came and fished,” said Reinbold. “We’ve had enough interest for high school programs. There’s one fisherman from Colstrip, Montana that had 75 percent of his college tuition paid for. College fishing across the nation has really taken off the last few years.”

How many high schoolers will test their skills in boats this year is not yet known, but the numbers are expected to grow as the program becomes more familiar with students and parents. Experienced anglers will provide boats and act as mentors for young fishermen, teaching everything from knot tying to lure presentation and on the water tactics.

The two-man team winners of this year’s North Dakota Championship will advance to The Bass Federation national high school event in Alabama. Additionally, any team that competes at the state level is eligible to compete on the national stage against teams from other states for a berth in the championship field. Last year there were 300 teams vying for one open spot in the national tourney.