They compete in the Bassmaster High School Trail, whose 8-tourney schedule includes stops on Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake. In the opener at Nickajack earlier this month, the team took home three places in the 77-team tourney.
“It has really taken off,” says Gary Redic who coaches the team comprised of approximately 30 high school-age anglers. “Last year the state tournament trail was started, and the response was so big that it was expanded this year.”
There is also a regional competition, capped by the national Bassmaster Southern Open in Alabama.
“I’m pleased with our turnout,” says Redic. “The team is growing by leaps and bounds.”
The team is based at Mt. Juliet High, but is open to youngsters in all Wilson County high schools.
“Every high school in the county is represented on the team,” Redic says. “Right now all the members are boys, and I would like to see more girls participate. Girls can be just as good fishermen as boys.”
Likewise, says Redic, the team is open to aspiring young anglers of all skill levels.
“Some of them team members are experienced fishermen,” he says. “We have others who are just beginning. They haven’t had an opportunity to do much fishing, and that’s OK – we’ll teach them.”
If the youngsters don’t have tackle, some will be provided.
“We’re kind of limited right now,” Redic says, “but if a kid wants to come out for the team and doesn’t have any tackle, I’ll see that he or she gets some.”
Redic welcomes corporate sponsors to help defray costs, and says several have already stepped up.
“A good example is Walmart,” he says. “Awhile back we needed a tent to set up at a tournament, and Walmart donated one. Support like that is really appreciated. It goes to a good cause.”
Other area sponsors that have provided assistance are Wilson County Motors, Boggs Builders, Southern Bank of Tennessee, Manheim Auto Auction, Shelter Insurance, Wilson Bank & Trust, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Frogg Toggs, Guaranty Research Services, Burdine Supply, Lebanon Distributing, D&H Electronic Systems, Extra Point Sports and Team Mom Trophies.
High school fishing teams are growing in popularity, and Redic says Tennessee ranks No. 2 nationally in participants, behind only Alabama. He estimates there are 30-40 teams state-wide, with varying memberships.
The Mt. Juliet Fishing Team is endorsed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which conducted a seminar at a recent team meeting.
Redic says the attraction of fishing teams is easy to explain: fishing is a wholesome outdoors actively, available to all skill levels, and the competition between teams is as intense as in football and other interscholastic sports.
Also, with more and more colleges fielding fishing teams, there is a chance that a talented youngster might hook a scholarship.
For information about memberships or sponsorships, contact Redic at 615-714-5862 or email at [email protected].