Quite the catch

Bass fishing club advances to state

Junior+Blaise+Naug%2C+senior+Jacob+Kelley%2C+freshman+Zane+Niziol+and+freshman+Troy+Liverman+won+seventh+place+in+the+High+School+Bass+Fishing+Regional+Competition+on+April+17.+The+club+qualified+for+the+state+competition+May+16-17.

Photo submitted by Matthew Schwolert

Junior Blaise Naug, senior Jacob Kelley, freshman Zane Niziol and freshman Troy Liverman won seventh place in the High School Bass Fishing Regional Competition on April 17. The club qualified for the state competition May 16-17.

Splash. The hook falls away from the boat and lands in the water, creating a small ripple. It may seem that junior and angler Blaise Naug is enjoying a lazy day fishing on Lake Lewisville but he’s also competing against 290 other boats. It’s the Texas High School Bass Fishing Regional Competition, and Naug feels confident that his team will win.

As the sinker descends into the darkness, a short burst of wind throws the boat off its course, threatening a wind storm. As the team stabilizes the boat, Naug feels a bite on his hook. This fish is a strong swimmer, fighting back against the reel, but Naug has fished since he was a kid and knows how to adjust for it. Just as the wind hits again, Naug pulls the bass on board.

This fish was the one of four that the team caught that day. They weighed a combined 10.71 pounds, giving the Bass Fishing Club seventh place in the contest and scholarship money to put toward new equipment.

The student-run club formed in 2015 and initially struggled to win competitions. But as the years went on, the club gained more members. Matthew Schwolert joined the group as the sponsor at the beginning of this school year and wants the anglers to continue participating in competitions.

The club’s members use their own boats and tackle, and their competitions are entirely catch-and-release. Once the fish are caught, they’re put into a water tank on the boat to keep the fish safe. Once the competition is over, the fish are weighed before being released.

“If there’s no fish, we can’t have these tournaments. So it’s really important that we take care of them,” Naug said.

He and Jacob Kelley will advance to the state competition at Dam Site Park Ramp on Lake Texoma, May 15-16, where over 200 teams will compete.

“It’s rewarding because you put a lot of time in,” Naug said. “I think we put [in] about four weekends, and each of those weekends are about six to eight hours per day.”