The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

April 8, 2014

High school fishing clubs on the rise

Athens, Clements, West to compete at Wheeler Lake

— Considered a hobby by most, bass fishing is now serious business for few dozen students in Limestone County. Fishing teams from Athens, Clements and West Limestone may be new, but they are ready to compete at a tournament at Joe Wheeler State Park Saturday.

Clements formed the first fishing club in Limestone County last season. They recently became the first school from this area to qualify for the state tournament with a top ten finish at a tournament on Lake Guntersville last month.

Athens and West Limestone are in their first year as fishing clubs and have an opportunity to qualify for the state tournament with a top seven finish at Joe Wheeler Saturday.

“I think we’ve got a good shot,” said Athens coach Brad Chittam. “We get to choose the lakes we wanted to fish and this is where we felt most comfortable. I felt like this gave us the best chance.”

High school fishing teams in Alabama are allowed to choose three lakes to compete for a spot at the state tournament. Athens chose Guntersville, Pickwick and Wheeler Lakes. According to Alabama Student Anglers Bass Fishing Association rules, teams may enter up to five boats, but only the top three weights county toward the team’s point total.

Regional tournaments are held in March and April in order to qualify for the state tournament May 9-10.

This will be the first for Athens and West at a state tournament appearance. The bass fishing clubs were formed around the same time, in the fall of 2013.

“We got some interest from some kids that wanted to do it,” said Chittam. “From there, word of mouth spread until we had enough. Some kids are more experienced (than others). Some of my seniors and a few underclassmen had already fished tournaments.”

Two of Athens’ seniors — Collin Chittam and Bram McGrady — plan to try out for Auburn’s fishing team where they could compete against other collegiate teams.

More than 200 boats are expected to compete at Wheeler Lake Saturday where teams will leave at first light for a 2 p.m. weigh-in.


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