BUCKHANNON — A renewed interest in the sport of fishing at Buckhannon-Upshur High School has led to the formation of a new club.
The Fishing and Conservation Club is being organized now, according to principal Eddie Vincent.
Vincent and science teacher Ed Koba will advise the club, which will be working with the B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia to compete in tournaments and perform conservation and community service.
Vincent said he received a full page hand-written letter from a student in the fall stating that he did not have an interest in athletics but asked about having a bass fishing team.
“I loved the idea,” he said.
Vincent said he met with the student and assured him he would look into it.
Around the same time, Vincent learned that Lewis County was starting a team and competing. He began making calls and was connected with Dana Brown, B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia youth director.
Vincent said he was encouraged by the turnout for the introductory meeting — 23 students who learned about it through word of mouth. He said the Fishing and Conservation Club will be doing some community service.
“We feel there are a lot of things that we can do to help out with the environment,” he said.
“We are hoping to even host a B.A.S.S. tournament at some time.”
Vincent said he was encouraged by the reception so far.
“It just seems like fun,” he said. “The students like it and there is so much more to this than fishing with the conservation aspect, projects and the overall education.”
Students who sign up are eligible to compete in the state tournament on April 30, but Vincent said the school is looking ahead to next year as well.
“We are going to do some fundraising to help offset the cost for some of our students,” he said.
Besides fundraising, there is also a need for volunteers from the community.
“We would really like to have people who would volunteer,” he said. “If they have a bass boat or particular expertise or knowledge of the sport that would help us out a bit.”
Brown met with the students and staff for the interest meeting Wednesday.
“I have clubs in approximately 39 high schools in West Virginia,” he said. “They have to put so many hours into conservation a year, I believe it’s 30.”
“The team minimum is two students,” he added. “A club can have as many students as they want, but there are two students per boat to compete.”
Tournaments take place in Charleston, Fairmont, Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County and Summersville, to name a few places.
Competitions typically last for eight hours, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a required 20-minute lunch.
The teams work to see who will have the heaviest sack of five fish that meet the required 12-inch minimum by the end of the day.
Brown said the clubs are about more than just fishing. Conservation projects allow students to learn about the sciences of the water, biology of the fish and other foods in the ecosystem.
“They learn about marketing themselves, because they go out and search for sponsors,” he said. “I just think it opens a new world to them, especially if we can tap into something they are passionate about, in this case fishing.”
Brown said he encourages the schools to require a C average to compete in tournaments, much like other sports.
“From the state championship we are able to send four teams to the national championship, which has been held at Lake Kentucky in Tennessee for the last three years,” he said. “At last year’s national championship, B.A.S.S. gave out $89,000 in college scholarships.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can search for BASS Nation of WV High School on Facebook or visit www.wvbassnation.org. To help with B-UHS’s team, email Brown at [email protected] or call 304-613-6133. You may also contact Vincent at the high school at 304-472-3720.