GILBERTSVILLE – The Murray State High School Fishing Open is scheduled for Saturday on Kentucky Lake out of the Kentucky Dam Marina.
The tournament is he first of 47 designated by The Bass Federation (TBF) and its Student Angler Federation as a state championship event.
Winning teams will advance to a regional tournament, with regional champions moving on to the 2014 national championship tournament.
Marshall County will have several two-person teams competing in Sunday’s tournament.
“I think I’ll have at least five boats in it,” said Luke Anderson, coach of the Marshall County team.
Marshall County seniors Logan Thomas and Garrett Cross picked up a victory in the Icebreaker tournament for high school anglers Feb. 9. That tourney, on Kentucky Lake out of the Fenton landing, was sponsored by Trigg County High School.
But there’s no such thing as momentum for fishermen, because in the final analysis, the fish have to decide to bite.
“It still is up to the fish,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of variables. ... There’s really nothing you can control except maybe lure selection and maybe location.”
However, Anderson noted the difference between recreational fishing and tournament competition.
“That [tournament fishing] is definitely what this high school program is geared toward, which is a whole different ballgame,” he said. “It’s hard to get people to understand what’s involved.”
Many people relate it to going fishing with dad or granddad, he said, and he has been asked, “Aren’t you just going out there and sittin’ and hopin’?”
“It’s more than that,” he said. “It’s gotten to be a big industry. It’s very scientific. There are such payouts in these [professional] tournaments, there’s definitely a lot of strategy and biology and technology and meteorology.”
Anderson, a 2002 MCHS graduate who teaches social studies at Benton Middle School, describes his own background as mostly recreational fishing. He has fished as high as the co-angler level in FLW tournaments.
He was named coach of the team in the fall after the KHSAA added bass fishing as a sanctioned sport.
Saturday’s event is a predecessor to the KHSAA-sanctioned state tournament. That event will be April 26-27 out of Kenlake Marina in Aurora.
However, four KHSAA regional tournaments in Kentucky are included on the TBF list of state championship events, along with Saturday’s Murray State Open.
The first of those regional tourneys is April 12-13 on Laike Barkley, out of Kuttawa Harbor Marina.
Anderson credits a group organized over the past two years by parents of students who wanted fishing as a school activity.
“The Thomases, Nicole and Jeff Thomas and their son, Logan, got the program set up,” Anderson said.
It started as a club activity, and with support from various entities, including Benton-based FLW, the club was able to conduct its own tournaments.
“It’s been a tremendous learning curve for everybody involved,” Anderson said. “I have kids, of all levels. I didn’t have a cut. Some high schools have had some kind of an elimination cut.”
Thomas, Anderson said, is “one of the more serious semi-professional fishermen” in the high school ranks.
Sunday’s tournament will award a $2,000 scholarship to attend Murray State to the winning team.