Why you should start a high school fishing team

An open letter to high school teachers, students and administrators

MidWest Outdoors contributor and high school fishing standout Carter Wijangco has penned a plea to every high school in America, touting the merits of forming a high school fishing team.

Dear High Schools of America,

My name is Carter Wijangco and I am 15 years old. I live and breathe bass fishing. It’s where I fit in, just like other kids might fit in playing other sports like soccer, basketball, football, baseball, etc. It’s one of the fastest growing high school sports in America, and it’s something anyone can participate in. Unfortunately, my school doesn’t have a fishing team; but I hope this article will encourage schools around the nation, including mine, to form a high school fishing team.

Awareness of the sport

Last weekend I fished the IBN High School State Championship on Clinton Lake, Illinois. As usual, the tournament was run smoothly; more and more boats show up every year. Ten years ago, high school and college tournaments never existed. In the U.S., 11.6 million kids fish but only 45,000 participate in high school fishing. Creating a high school fishing team at your school can create awareness of the sport, and bring in kids that might have never even known about bass fishing before. While for many fishing is a relaxing sport, high school fishing can help fulfill the competitive drive that many kids like me have.

Fishing and education

Because fishing is an athletic program, maintaining good grades is a must if you want to fish the next tournament. The Bassmaster All-American program is a great example because it takes into account your tournament record, conservation, and your academic success. These factors are all important if a student is to be chosen for the All-American team. Only 12 are chosen out of the 300+ applicants, and it’s one of the biggest awards in high school bass fishing. Being an All-American is an amazing title to have when submitting applications to college, or finding a job.

College scholarships

Many colleges now give out bass fishing scholarships, sometimes even a full ride. A high school fishing team can help kids become noticed more by the college coaches, and it can allow the student to become an overall better angler. Being on a team instead of fishing alone means that you can practice more, fish more tournaments, and a lot of high school coaches have connections to college coaches. A high school team also allows you to learn more from experience in tournaments, your coach and your other teammates.

Why be outside?

High school fishing teams offer another good way for kids to get outside instead of sitting inside and playing video games, which has become the norm in our modern society. Every day after school, my friends and I go fishing. This has helped me stay away from drugs and alcohol, and it helps me stay busy. It offers an outlet to relieve the stress from school, work and the many other things we have to worry about in our life.

Anyone can participate

Another awesome thing about fishing is that to participate, you don’t have to be super athletic. But it still takes a lot of work to become one of the best. It’s a great option because a lot of sports in high school only allow the strongest and fastest kids to play. Fishing, by its nature, rewards focus and hard work, regardless of one’s natural athletic ability.

Mental toughness

Fishing has taught me to have a solid work ethic and good mental toughness. While it may not look hard, fishing is one of the hardest sports with which to make a living. When you start to win tournaments and get sponsors and business deals, it takes a lot of work to be able to work for your sponsors, find a way to pay entry fees (which can be thousands of dollars), and make room to fish and become a better angler.

Fishing has taught me mental toughness, because to win you need to be laser focused for the whole day. That can mean anywhere from 6 to 9 hours. Towards the end of the day, a lot of people will give up. Having the ability to fish hard and push through the entire day is a feat.  In some instances, you might be fishing multiple days and getting little to no sleep.

Giving kids the opportunity

Another reason more high school fishing teams should be formed is because it allows kids to participate in fishing who may not be privileged enough to do so on their own. I have personal experience with this.  While my mom is able to arrange boaters for my tournaments, many of my friends aren’t able to fish tournaments––they either can’t afford to pay the entry fees or they don’t have access to a boat. A high school fishing team allows kids to have boaters, funding for entry fees, gas, hotel, and some even get sponsored. Also, the kids can have gear and discounts that they might not have been able to have before.

Thank you,

Carter Wijangco

MWO