Thompson High School freshman Austin Herring is an athlete, but he doesn’t play football, basketball or baseball.
His sport doesn’t require handling a tennis racquet or swinging a golf club. He doesn’t need exceptional speed or a strong arm to excel in his sport.
Herring just needs a rod, a reel and quick reflexes.
Herring, who is part of a growing pack of high school bass-fishing anglers, teamed up with junior Tanner Ellis to form the first ever bass-fishing team at Thompson High School this spring.
The duo completed their inaugural season by competing at the first ever Alabama high school club bass-fishing state tournament May 15 at Logan Martin Lake.
The two Thompson anglers finished eighth out of 18 teams that qualified for the state tournament. The team launched its boat at Lakeside Landing at Logan Martin, which is located in east central Alabama.
Herring and Ellis reeled in the limit of five fish with a total weight of 9.11 pounds. The duo’s biggest fish, caught by Herring, weighed 3.11 pounds.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association didn’t sanction the sport in 2010, but tournament supporters hope to attract enough attention statewide for bass fishing to add the sport to the list of activities sanctioned by the AHSAA.
Ellis, who remembers the first big bass he caught in his grandmother’s pond, was hooked as soon as the idea was tossed around at Thompson.
“I’ve been fishing as long as I can remember,” Ellis said.
Herring said he appreciated the opportunity to take part in the first ever Alabama high school bass fishing tournament.
“It was pretty cool,” Herring said. “I’m glad we got the chance to do it. I hope we get another chance next year.”
Ellis said he hopes more schools decide to offer bass fishing as a sport in the future.
“It was really exciting to compete with guys at my own level,” Ellis said. “I hope it gets pretty big so more people will have the chance to do what we do.”
Decatur Heritage Christian Academy won the tournament with a bag of five fish weighing more than 16 pounds.
The two Warriors qualified for the tournament after catching a limit of five fish weighing 8.07 pounds at a tournament April 10 at the Alabama River in south Alabama.
Ellis and Herring also fished at tournaments at Wheeler Lake in northeast Alabama and Neely Henry Lake in east central Alabama this spring. David Bria, Nick Holt and Hunter Tinney also participated in bass-fishing tournaments this spring representing Thompson.
Thompson High School physical education teacher Dusty Goode, who is also an assistant coach for the football team, served as the faculty sponsor for the bass-fishing team.
The group from Thompson was joined in high school bass-fishing tournaments this spring by two teams from Chelsea High School. Alex Boroughs and Landon Lowery formed one team for the Hornets. Skyliar Harris and Ryan Sims made up another team.
Neither team qualified for the state tournament. Boroughs and Lowery caught 5.19 pounds of bass at the Alabama River qualifying tournament. Harris and Sims reeled in 3.21 pounds of bass at the Neely Henry Lake tournament March 27.
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