The Athens Review
MABANK — Two high school bass fishermen can now say they are state champions following their win in the Texas High School Bass Championship held earlier this month.
Senior Stephen Caillet and freshman Justin Shelton picked up the win over 58 teams after a total weight of 16.45 pounds.
The duo also won $1,000 scholarships and sponsorships from Dobbins Rods for a year, following their win.
“It was awesome and definitely one of the coolest feelings,” Caillet said of the win. “To be one of the first tournaments, and not knowing what to expect honestly, and catching the biggest fish total was awesome.”
Shelton said Dustin Clark was motivating him to perform at his best during the tournament.
“Clark kept telling me you can catch the big one tomorrow, and I was like ‘Yeah, hopefully,’ because I wasn't that motivated,” Shelton said. “Once we started catching fish, I was getting into it and happy about it.”
Mabank agriculture teacher Dustin Clark said he took over the sponsorships for the team after starting the program in the fall, and hearing about it from other competitors he fishes against.
“I fish in a lot of tournaments myself, and one of them told me they were a boat captain for another team,” Clark said. “All of the kids are members, and pay $25 for insurance with the TBF (The Bass Federation).”
Clark said a group of volunteer boat captains draw for the teams, and provide the boat for the competition.
He said the boat captains have a special role for each team.
“Boat captains can only drive the boat,” Clark said. “We show them how to run the trolling motor, and the students can run it, if they are comfortable. Boat captains are volunteers, and I try to tell the kids to give them $20 bucks to help with gas and helping the kids.”
Caillet said this was definitely an experience he wanted to take part in as soon as he heard about a team.
“Me and my friend Brock were actually fishing over the summer, and talking about it,” Caillet said. “We talked with Mr. Clark about it, and they started talking more and more, and said they would try to do it. I really wanted to do it, because I love fishing, and I have never been out on a boat fishing. That was like my second time ever, and it is fun.”
Clark said he would love to have 10 teams next year, and to have kids go to college, and fish on college teams, and possibly go pro for bass fishing.
The bass team competes this weekend at Lake Ray Hubbard, followed by Lake Tawakoni and Cedar Creek Lake on May 4.