High school anglers compete for spot in state championship

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - For the boys of Wetumpka High School's bass fishing team, it's not just another day out on the water.

"For our team to do really good here would mean a lot," says William Brown.

It's the final qualifier for Brown and his teammates to land a spot in the state championship tournament.

70 boats--filled with kids from across the state--spread out up and down the Alabama River with one goal.

"We catch fish," says Brown.

It's only the second year Alabama has had an organized high school fishing association. It's proving to be a success.

Last year roughly 20 schools were involved.  This year it's 35.

"We've got people from Florence, Alabama. We got people from Guntersville. We got people from Russellville, people from Smith Station, and Wetumpka. A lot of people from Birmingham," says Rose Ellis, Tournament Director for the Alabama Student Anglers Bass Fishing Association.

She says the good thing is, all those people are staying in the river region.

"Their parents are here, they're using the hotels, the restaurants, the gas facilities. They bring a lot of money to the economies whenever we do something like this in a city."

The tournament isn't just about the here and now.  The fishing the boys do in competition could set them up for a college future.

"Occasionally we do have that where they'll be some college coaches that show up," says Wetumpka High School Head Coach Barry Corbman.

He's getting pretty used to university scouts recruiting his fishermen.

"We've got several anglers that are looking at colleges and being on their fishing team."

But for now, kids like Brown just fish for fun.

"I love it. It's a passion," he says.

He hopes one day that love lands him a college scholarship and eventually a spot in the pros.

Directors expect the organization to be even bigger next year with five more schools interested in starting fishing programs--including one in Montgomery.

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