Reel fun: Fishing team catches on, provides new opportunities for students

The sun rises over the horizon as the light reflects off the glassy surface of the water. The boat rocks back and forth as the guys watch their corks bob up and down slowly in the water, waiting for that first bite of the morning. Last year, students joined a fishing team that travels around Texas and competes. The tranquility of fishing is mixed with the intensity of competition as they participate as members of the fishing team which is sponsored by Darren Nobles who works at Rudder where he sponsors their team as well.

In order to compete, members of the fishing team must also be registered members of the Texas High School Bass Association, and have a love of fishing. Lucky for the Bryan members, their passion for the sport is what led to the creation of the team.

“It was my idea to start the Bryan team,” junior Tyler Willis said. “I contacted Mr. Buban and he worked with the Rudder team so that we could get together. I was thinking that the team would be really fun.”

For many of the members of the team, fishing has been an important part of their lives for as long as they can remember.

“I’ve been fishing since I was barely old enough to walk,” Tyler said. “I’ve been competing for about a year now.”

Though members of the team work together to build their skills and become better fishers, most of the sport is done in teams of two. These two-man teams fish together at tournaments from 6am to 3pm, giving them plenty of time to take in their surroundings and socialize with other fishermen.

“Fishing with the school gives me the ability to get out and enjoy nature on God’s green earth,” Tyler said. “I get to meet other people and stay open-minded to others.”

The team was created in the 2016-2017 school year, and despite their late start in September of 2016, the members’ desire to compete together for the school allowed them to form a successful team.

“The students came to me with interest in starting the club,” Nobles said. “It took about two weeks to get all the necessary information and registrations done. Our club missed the first tournament, but we finished four tournaments and qualified for the regional tournament.”

Members of the fishing team competed again at regionals this year, gaining the opportunity to fish at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana. Though circumstances weren’t perfect, the team still fished well and experienced a great opportunity.

“Toledo Bend is a very large lake,” Nobles said. “The weather was not the best, but all teams competed well. We had teams finish in places 64, 71, and 113. I am very proud of how hard they worked all year to get to this point.”

Although it was challenging, team members appreciate the chance they got to compete at the regional tournament together.

“Regionals was a bit challenging because it was so big, but it was an awesome experience,” junior Alexander Gonzales said. “We didn’t really place where we expected, but we caught two fish and weighed about five and a half pounds.”

For the younger members of the team, the regional competition gave them a chance to show their current skills and figure out ways they can improve for future tournaments and competitions.

“Competing at Toledo Bend made me feel great because it doesn’t come around that often,” Tyler said. “Hopefully next year I can better myself and become a better angler and have more success so I can move onto state. Hopefully I can do that before I graduate.”

Apart from the actual competitions, the fishing team provides members with a community of fishermen that they might miss out on otherwise.

“My favorite part about the team is that I get to socialize with everybody, and everybody gets to be themselves,” Alexander said. “If you have anything to ask or if you need anything, you feel comfortable enough with everybody to be able to ask it.”

While members of the fishing team have noticed their own growth and improvement in the sport, their dedication and determination struck the coach and inspired hope for the team’s success in following years.

“I have seen great growth in the team members since they began,” Nobles said. “They were already avid fishermen, but being in a competition setting further increased their desire to perform at higher levels. We are expecting more growth in our club for next year.”