I remember high school fairly well. Well enough to remember that being up before dark on a Saturday morning almost always meant Friday hadn’t ended yet. I don’t think I can ever recall getting up before dawn on a Saturday morning in high school; not willingly anyway. I wasn’t much on chasing bass then. But for our young anglers in the sport today, many wouldn’t miss the chance at a daylight bite for a few extra hours of sleep. These young anglers now have so many avenues to compete and showcase their talents in the sport. One of the premier venues for that is the BASS affiliated high school and junior programs. We have covered high school angling in the southern and central regions of our state before, but I recently learned of yet another premier organization in my own back yard.
Living in the Northwest region of the state, it can make covering the basin and other parts of south Louisiana quite challenging. Apparently it makes covering my own back yard a challenge as well. Through a recent social media interaction I was introduced to the Ark-LA-Tex Bassmaster High School and Junior Fishing Trail by its director, Mr. Jason Townsend. Jason and I were talking baits when he brought up his involvement with the organization. As you all know one of our main missions is to cover the future of the sport by showcasing the talent of these young anglers. Once he mentioned the organization, and after getting over my being dumbfounded by not knowing about them, I told him we had to start covering their tournament trail.
High School Tournament Trail
September 2020, Volume 117
Continue Reading Below.
Continue Reading Below.
While not completely new, the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster High School and Junior Fishing Trail is really only just getting started. Having been around a year now and entering their second season, Jason was happy to share the results of the recent back to school bash they had and how many anglers signed up for the trail this year at his local high school. With around 50 boats competing in the trail I was shocked to learn that none of them were from Louisiana. The LA in Ark-LA-Tex is obviously Louisiana, so I had to talk to Jason to find out more about how we can get Louisiana high school and junior high anglers competing for this year’s share of scholarships. The upcoming season promises to be one you don’t want to miss. Jason tells me they “…not only have scholarships lined up for our kids…but we will send two teams from the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster trail to the high school national championship this year.”
The big show! The Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster Trail serves as a direct pipeline to the National Championship with two teams from the trail qualifying for Nationals.
This trail promises to offer untapped opportunity for Louisiana anglers. Featuring interstate competition on a regular basis at this level, including venues in multiple states and an expanse across the region, the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster promises to give these young anglers challenges and lessons for their angling tool box, as well as scholarship money. Not only can you take these scholarship winnings anywhere, but competing in the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster trail, anglers can qualify for their state championship from any state; you just have to declare the state you will compete in and “the top 20 high school and junior anglers will go on to compete for their state championship” says Jason. What an opportunity. But hey, it gets better. When making the tournament schedule, Jason consciously aimed to avoid other major trails to ensure these young anglers could compete with Ark-La-Tex, and as many other trails of their choosing. Jason says “we set it up so they could basically fish a different trail each weekend without conflicts.”
The first tournament of this new season is at Millwood Lake in southwest Arkansas on September 27th. Jason says to make sure everyone knows it’s not too late to get signed up for the first event as the signup deadline is the day before the tournament, but “the sooner the better, …because the Millwood event will host both the Arkansas South and Ark-La-Tex trails, meaning double the competition, and double the payout!” The best part? If you’re already a BASS member and fish another trail, there’s no membership fee, you just pay the entry fee.
Talking to Jason, you can hear the passion in his voice for the sport and for the kids. The main reason he started the trail was to “get these kids on the water” because its all about them. When he decided to get involved he called a few organizations and chose BASS for two main reasons. “Bassmaster was the only trail we found where 100% of the buy-ins go back to the kids,” which was important to Jason who runs the trail and his local high school team on a volunteer basis. That means taking vacation from work for the events and burning free time away from family and the books as he works to finish his college degree started a few years back. The time devoted to the trail by Jason is truly evidence of his passion for the sport. With a guy so busy I was worried I had kept him too long on the phone and may be wasting some time, but he reassured me that “as long as we are talking fishing and its benefitting the kids its not wasting a bit of my time.”
So if you know a high school angler looking for more experience, competition, and another pipeline to state and national competition and exposure in the sport, be sure to let them know about the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster trail. The trail will have stops at Millwood, Patman, Lake O’ the Pines, and Caddo Lake. So let’s get some Louisiana representation this year and get some of our kids competing for the scholarships and qualifying Geaux Bassin’ at the state and national events.
Be sure to follow the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster Trail on Facebook by clicking the button below!
The 2020-2021 Tournament Trail for the Ark-La-Tex Bassmaster features a packed lineup of quality bass lakes across our region.
Quick shots of a weigh in from last season. Averaging around 50 boats per event, the trail hopes to grow to 100 boats per event this year.