Monday, September 26, 2016
My Account  | Login
Nashua-BoireFieldAirport;38.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2016-09-26 03:11:22
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nashua area high school students compete in annual bass fishing tournament

By DON HIMSEL
Staff Writer

As autumn arrives, sports-oriented thoughts turn to marching bands and football. But for some, the season also means fishing.

Thursday's high school fishing competition qualifier event will be held on Lake Winnipesaukee and will bring together dozens of Granite State high school anglers - and their volunteer boat operators - for a fourth year of competitive fishing. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

As autumn arrives, sports-oriented thoughts turn to marching bands and football. But for some, the season also means fishing.

Thursday's high school fishing competition qualifier event will be held on Lake Winnipesaukee and will bring together dozens of Granite State high school anglers - and their volunteer boat operators - for a fourth year of competitive fishing.

Though a bit off from the norm of the typical fall sports lineup, the contest has proven its popularity.

New Hampshire Fish and Game education program supervisor Laura Ryder said the competition "offers a different kind of opportunity for kids that might not go out for football, soccer or more traditional sports."

"It's a lifelong activity for these kids. Fishing is something you can take with you for the rest of your life," she said.

Top finishing anglers from Thursday will advance to the finals, scheduled for Oct. 1 on Lake Winnisquam.

Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua is one of the teams participating this year in a competition that attracts an average of 40 teams annually. They've been involved since the competitions were formed four years ago.

Team coordinator Dan Gurall, the school's vice principal, said the sense of community and teamwork by partners are important to the success of the tournaments.

"It's an absolute blast to see it played out," said Gurall, who praised the work done by Fish and Game and the New Hampshire Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society, as well as a slew of volunteer boat drivers and parents.

Gurall said his team's tryouts are around the same time football tryouts. Interested anglers make the school's team by showing prowess with fishing gear and knots and by taking a written test.

Gurall said volunteer boat captains spend their own money trucking in and gassing up boats for the student anglers to use. They aren't allowed to provide any assistance once on the water, except netting a fish if an angler requests help. The kids call the shots as to where they will fish.

"It can be pretty interesting how they have to strategize," Ryder said. "There definitely is skill involved. It's different kind of sport form the bigger sports."

During competition, four anglers can compete at a time. The volunteer boat captain for BG is David Crandall. Crandall's son, also named David, competed with the team. Though his son has graduated, he still steps up to help the school.

"The community around it has been really, really good - overwhelming, even," Gurall said.

The goal during competition is having the highest combined weight from up to eight live fish. The fish are weighed at a group event at the end of the day, then released alive.

A committee of NHIAA and NHFG members decides where the teams will fish in the competition.

For the students, it's more than just time on the water.

The anglers take competition seriously, and Gurall likened it to pond hockey versus playing on a hockey team.

There's a learning element to the contest, too.

"We provide an educational seminar for the students. The students come here to headquarters for a presentation on black bass, their natural history, lead and the loon issue. We go over some laws and tournament tactics. They get about a two-hour seminar with us," Ryder said.

"You learn an awful lot about fish, as well, and the ecology," she said.

Team structure varies by school and can include between two and 15 anglers. "It's a matter of who qualifies," Ryder said.

Gurall said New Hampshire joins a handful of other states in the country that offer competitive fishing as a school team sport.

"Despite its relative unknown nature," Ryder said. "It still has strong merit."

New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Director Jeff Collins said competitive fishing helps "get kids who would otherwise not be engaged in NHIAA sports to represent their school and a great way to get kids involved."

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DonH.