The Lure of B.A.S.S. – Local High School Students Fish for Scholarships

Front Row, Left to right: Kaleigh Richardson, Briley Knowles, Dakota Wooten, Lane Morton, Kayden Townsend. Back Row: Jason Townsend

The Genoa fishing team is inviting all high school anglers to join the Ark-La-Tex Bassmasters and Junior Fishing Trail. In addition to the general benefits of fishing, youths have a chance to win thousands in scholarships.

The Ark-La-Tex Bassmasters and Junior Fishing Trail started because Jason Townsend saw a need. Father and organized-fishing enthusiast, Jason wanted to share his passion for sport with his son but found that difficult to do around here.

“I started this because we don’t have any organized fishing in this area. We would have to travel three hours,” Jason said. About ten years ago, some of the parents in Genoa got together to organize a local high school fishing league. After helping out for the past couple of years, Jason was approached to run the team.

Genoa High School now has 15 teams comprising of two youth anglers and a coach. They compete in school-sponsored small tournaments or “Fishing Trails” that are open to all area schools. The Ark-La-Tex Bassmasters and Junior Fishing Trail’s upcoming events are at Millwood Lake, February 23rd; Wright Patman Lake, March 14th; Caddo Lake, April 5th; Final TBO, April 25th, and 26th.

Working directly with Lucy Johnson, director of Bass Masters of Arkansas, Jason discovered a way to provide genuine incentives from the sport of fishing.

“Bass Masters is on a national level with a chance to get a college scholarship. If we have enough people in this trial, and we’re talking about fifty teams who fish just four tournaments, we get a spot in the national tournament at Bass Masters. That is fishing against the best in the country at a high school level,” Jason said.

“This is a trail for everyone to come together, compete and an angler from this area will go to represent Texarkana against the best in the country,” Jason adding, “Bethel University from Tennessee gave away $450,000 in college scholarships, last year, to the winner of the tournament. That is divided between 24 teams and the kids that won it this year, won it back-to-back, so they got that twice.”

“You can actually set your whole life up from bass fishing,” Jason imparted. Here are eight colleges offering Fishing Scholarships.

To be apart of Bass Masters, each fisher pays $20 in dues that covers registration, fishing insurance (all boats have to follow state laws), and a subscription to the Bassmasters Magazine.

Mr. Townsend said that corporate sponsorship is what is needed to take Ark-La-Tex Bassmasters and Junior Fishing Trail to the next level. Jason thanked Gregg Orr Marine, Red River Lumber, and Cooper Service for their support by providing the initial funds for tools necessary to facilitate a tournament. Also, Mike Dillinger of 4D Fishing gave every junior angler that signed up for Bassmasters a free jig.

“We could always use some extra coaches and boats. We have a great bunch of dads, uncles, and grandpas that pitch in,” Jason said.

Conservation is important and all fish are released back into the wild. Junior anglers are taught to respect their adversaries and hone their skills.

“This is the only sport I know that is actually ‘whit’ against ‘whit’; there’s not any amount of athletic ability. You have to be smart, you have to practice, you have to think, adjust on the fly, and anyone who thinks they cant fish needs to look up Clay Dyer. He is a pro fisherman with no arms and legs.”

Mr. Townsend parted with this, “I’ve Always loved bass fishing, always have, and to be able to back to my own school that I grew up in and graduated from, and do this with my own son – you really can’t get better than that.”

Anyone interested in participating or sponsoring contact: Jason Townsend Email or Genoa Central Dragon High School Fishing Team on Facebook.

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