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Nashua;57.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ovc.png;2014-10-01 08:13:42
Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Hampshire schools ready for bass fishing tournament

When area high schools were asked if they’d be interested in participating in a bass fishing tournament, Gabe Gries of New Hampshire Fish and Game said he didn’t know what to expect. More than 60 teams and 40 schools later, he got his answer.

“We can’t believe it blew up like it did,” said Gries, a fisheries biologist and the Warm Water Project Leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and one of the coordinators for the NHIAA sanctioned event. “Our staff is incredibly excited about it.” ...

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When area high schools were asked if they’d be interested in participating in a bass fishing tournament, Gabe Gries of New Hampshire Fish and Game said he didn’t know what to expect. More than 60 teams and 40 schools later, he got his answer.

“We can’t believe it blew up like it did,” said Gries, a fisheries biologist and the Warm Water Project Leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and one of the coordinators for the NHIAA sanctioned event. “Our staff is incredibly excited about it.”

Currently, there are 68 teams and 45 schools participating.

The event, scheduled for May 9 on Lake Winnipesaukee, is a competition among teams of high schoolers. Pairs of anglers will fish from either their own boat or one provided by and skippered by a volunteer. There will be two separate groups, one sent out at 8 a.m., the other at 8:30. Each group will have six hours on the water. Individual medals will be awarded to the largest total catch, with a four fish maximum, and for the largest largemouth and smallmouth bass caught.

“We’ve reached out to bass tournament anglers throughout New Hampshire, Gries said. People see this as an opportunity to make a difference in a kid’s life. The New Hampshire Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society Bass Nation (B.A.S.S.) is donating weigh-in equipment. Gries said the people offering help are “incredibly generous in taking their work and drive time to volunteer.”

New Hampshire Fish and Game will handle the weigh-in, launching of boats and the check for invasive aquatic vegetation on boats, as well as assisting with the logistics and parking at Lee’s Mills in Moltonborough. Pat Corbin, executive director of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, said it’s somewhat unique.

New Hampshire is the third state to have the sport recognized in high schools. Illinois and Kentucky are the other two.

Corbin said his inspiration to get involved came from watching his own grandsons fish off a dock at Cobbett’s Pond.

“They would fish all day if they could,” he said, and thought there’s skill involved, and it’s not that expensive.

Corbin wanted to offer sports to students beyond the traditional team structure that has a very low chance of extending past high school years so fishing joined bowling as an offering.

“It involves both male and female students, both handicapped and non-handicapped equally. They’re lifelong sports,” Corbin said.

Nashua High School North senior John Delaney, when asked about his chances on the water Thursday, teaming up with his brother Brett, said, “we’re stoked. We think we’re going to place well. We’re going to use all the stuff we know.”

Delaney said he plans to ask around at any of the local tackle shops for advice and “what to throw.”

The two Delaneys were fishing Monday at Mine Fall Park in Nashua. Largemouth bass sat on their underwater nests, chasing panfish away as the pair cast rubber baits and talked about their love of fishing.

They’ve fished “since my dad took us out when we were three. He taught me everything I know,” John Delaney said. The brother team will fish from a boat supplied by a friend of John’s he knows from fishing tournaments out of the school realm.

The plan?

“Top water suspended jerk baits in the morning, and then see if they’re on beds up there and throw some spider grubs jugs on the beds and see if we can get them,” Delaney said.

The popularity (of the tournament) “caught us by surprise,” Corbin said. Over half the NHIAA membership has developed a team, some spawned from an existing school club. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest. Much like bowling, it engages a different population of student,” he said.

Next year, they may move the competition to the fall to avoid late spring spawning of the targeted species. Corbin said it may include regional or sectional competitions and would be modeled after other state sport tournaments where top competitors compete at the state level.

“How many kids do you see with rod on bike nowadays?” Gries asked. “The program “envigorates the youth of NH, not only by fishing, but by getting out and enjoying the beauty and natural resources the state has to offer.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or DHimsel@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).