The Bass Federation announced today it will conduct the inaugural High School Fishing World Finals in Russellville, Ark. on Lake Dardanelle, July 19-24, 2010. Anglers from more than 15 U.S. States and Canada are expected to attend this pinnacle event of TBF’s Student Anglers Federation and the rapidly expanding High School Fishing segment. All Student Angler Federation affiliated high school fishing clubs are eligible to register and attend this inaugural event and there is plenty of time left to get any High School club signed up.
Russellville, Ark. and the state of Arkansas Fish and Game have pledged an active role and support in the event. “Russellville is excited to be the host site for the 2010 High School Fishing World Finals, we look forward to having these high school students and their families here for the week, which will bring great economic impact into our community, as well as, allow them to see what a great lake area we have,” Christie Graham, Executive Director of the Russellville Tourism said.
According to TBF President, Robert Cartlidge, “The event will be centered on education, scholarships, catching fish and having fun; we intend to do all this with no entry fee to the event. In the future, there will be a format for who attends the event. However, the first one will be the tournament that anglers years from now will look back on and say, “I fished the first one, in Russellville” and we want to include as many as we can. The Student Anglers Federation has grown rapidly and our team has put together a unique plan to handle as many High School Teams who wish to register and try their hand at becoming the first High School Fishing World Champion.” Cartlidge continued, “If we have 100 boats or 1,000 boats this first year we’re ready for that, the more the better for the kids. Over time, we will grow; our plan is unlike anything the fishing industry has ever seen, and it will accommodate more boats at one event than there has ever been and do it in a fair and competitive format.”
The High School World Fishing Finals was designed around a very unique model never used in the fishing industry, but still incorporates items from sports longest running and most successful events. The event will settle into a “home” much like “March Madness” is with basketball. High School anglers and their families will know July is the time to vacation to the High School Fishing World Finals. The importance of education will be reinforced during the event with two simple written quizzes required of each contestant, one on boater safety & ethics and one on invasive species conservation. The results will have an impact on the final weights and event outcome. As stated, the event field is virtually unlimited in size to be as inclusive as possible.
TBF organizers want to grow the event to 1,000 or more boats competing and have a solid plan to properly manage those numbers. There will be no entry fees for the High School Teams. Each Student Angler Federation affiliated High School club can send as many two person teams they wish this first year. Each team secures its own boat to fish from and an adult non-fishing boat captain over 21 years old to drive the boat. The event’s “payout” will be in the form of thousands of dollars in post high school education scholarships, medals and trophies, and significant prizes for the anglers and for their High Schools. Students from all public and private schools that have graduated from the eighth grade, but have not started their freshman year of college are eligible to compete on a High School Fishing Team. Lake Dardanelle will go off-limits on Tuesday July 6 to all competitors until the start of the first practice day July 18. There will be multiple activities during the week culminating with official tournament days of July 22-24. Full details, entry forms and rules can be found on the website at highschoolfishing.org.
“For High School fishing, this is the culmination of years of hard work by a lot of dedicated people. All the state federations have supported young anglers since the very first federation was formed more than 40 years ago; youth is one of the federation’s cores values,” TBF National Youth Director, Mark Gintert, stated. “Over the years, others have stepped forward as well to serve the next generation of anglers, people such as, Ron Duncan, who helped model the national initiative “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” and industry veteran Terry Brown, president of Wired2Fish.com who started a “labor of love” that took eight years to get high school fishing in the schools and approved as a varsity sport in his home state of Illinois. The work done by Brown and director Dave Gannaway in Illinois is the “gold” standard in High School Fishing.” Gintert goes on to say, “There are many others “out there” working hard to help young people. They all deserve to share in the credit on getting things this far. By all accounts, the next logical step is to bring them all together for a true High School Fishing World Finals.”
The High School World Fishing Finals will be centered on a low cost family vacation of fun and festivities in and around Russellville, Ark. With its central location right off I-40, Russellville has everything for a perfect event where the high school anglers will be the stars of the show and a first class fishery and state park will highlight Lake Dardanelle.
The Bass Federation Inc., (TBF), is the oldest and largest, organized grassroots fishing organization in America. TBF is owned by those it serves and is dedicated to the sport of fishing. TBF affiliated state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 fishing, youth and conservation events at the local level each year, and have provided the foundation for the entire bass fishing industry for more than 40 years.