BassCats take fishing to a new level

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bass fishing is a rapidly growing sport in high schools and colleges across the United States, and Bainbridge Middle and High Schools have each added the competitive sport as an extra-curricular activity. BHS Coach Roy Matthews told members of Bainbridge Rotary on Tuesday about the history and growth of the Bass Cats in Bainbridge schools.

The club has grown significantly since it began four years ago. It began with approximately 10 students. Now there are 62. Laney Birdsong is the sole female angler in he club.

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Matthews introduced the two Bass Cats teams of two anglers each. They each qualified as state champions and were able to go to nationals held at Kentucky Lake this past August. The fishermen were Laney Birdsong and Hunter Davis of Bainbridge Middle School and Cuyler Duke and Bryson Arthur of BHS.

Duke and Arthur, both sophomores, spoke of their experiences in state competitions and how excited they were to qualify for Nationals. It was an eight-night stay, where they fished for eight days straight. There were 175 U.S. teams competing, and one from Canada. They reported that their team had to be in the top 12 standing at the end of day two and they were79. But, both reported it as a “great experience” that requires a lot of patience, while adding, “One of the benefits is getting to skip school legally.” The boys said it took a lot of cash to go and a donation campaign conducted by the club’s boosters enabled them to make the trip.

Matthews noted that it is not all about competition. “Every year we take kids out who have never fished before and it gives them the opportunity to enjoy one of nature’s best recreational sports.”

He admitted it does take money, and as they are a club and not a registered sport, they have seniors graduating who have been fishermen who might qualify for scholarships, if and when they have the money to award them.

Championship bass angler Pam Martin-Wells and her husband Steven, strong advocates for the Bass Cats, were present. She made note that when the teams went to nationals, Laney Birdsong was the only girl out of 59 guys. She assured that, “The fish doesn’t know whether it is a man or woman on the other end of the line. It is an outlet for those who may not be able to play football or other sports,” she added.

When Laney was asked if it bothered her to be the only girl, she replied she was happy to be an inspiration for other girls who want to learn to fish.

One challenge for the Bass Cats is finding enough boats for the teams. The Bass Cats Boosters welcome financial donations and sponsorships.