A total of four teams associated with the Bullard Panther Fishing Club recently took part in their final event of the 207-2018 school year, as the teams competed at the Texas High School Bass Association’s State Tournament, held Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, on the waters of Lake Sam Rayburn.
Despite having just eight total fishermen challenging a vast field of teams representing programs from across Texas, the Bullard Panther Fishing Club managed to cast their lines well and hook success by the lips, as the program finished in sixth place overall.
“We’re very excited about having placed sixth at the state tournament,” said Tim Haugh, Bullard Panther Fishing Club advisor and president of THSBA. “We were actually as close as second place after the first day of fishing and had one of our teams sitting as the fourth individual team; they were sitting good and our whole teams were set up good. Obviously there were a bunch of fish caught at the event, so a few teams were able to pass us in the standings, but we finished very well.”
In total, 172 individual teams competed at the state event, catching a THSBA-record total of 975 fish that tipped the scales at 4,736.87 pounds, with a total of 1,874 fish, or 95 percent, caught at the event released back into the waters of Lake Sam Rayburn.
“Finishing in sixth place was a great way to end our competitive calendar because we were able to have two of our own receive scholarships because of their strong finishes,” said Haugh. “That’s really the reason we do what we do – to provide an opportunity for these athletes to earn money that will pay for their college. Other than that, I can’t think of a better way to end the season.”
On the first day of the state tournament, the Bullard Panther Fishing Club was led by Colby Ferguson and Will McAllister, netting a catch of five fish weighing in at 19.05 pounds, allowing the team to hold a fourth place spot.
The duo of Landry Lasseter and Chase Bussell also jumped out to an early start on the first day of the event, climbing their way into 37th place with a five fish catch tipping the scale at 14.74 pounds.
Bullard’s Brock Davis and Bryce Nelson landed a 57th place performance after the first day thanks to their catch of five fish weighing in at 13.96 pounds.
The final team for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club was the team of Tyler Geer and Bailey Kurtz, holding to 162nd place with a net of five fish tipping the scales at 9.39 pounds.
On the second day of the THSBA State Tournament, the teams within the Bullard Panther Fishing Club looked to battle their way up the standings and improve on their first day totals.
After fishing throughout the day and returning to the weigh-in site, Ferguson and McAllister fished their way to the top for the program, finishing in sixth place with a total catch of 10 fish with a weight of 33.54 pounds.
Thanks to their heavy stringers, Ferguson and McAllister were awarded with $2,500 in scholarships each through THSBA.
“Colby and Will were just four pounds out of the lead, and just one pound out of second place, after the first day of fishing,” said Haugh. “The second day was a little bit different of a story because they didn’t almost make it back to the weigh-in site. They had until 3:30 p.m. to make it back, and it was about 2:50 p.m. when their mothers came to me in a straight running panic and they told me Colby and Will’s truck had broken down. It was a little difficult due to spotty cell service, we had about 35 minutes to go get them and bring them back to the site… We got them back with just four minutes to spare. We raced to the stage and had them weighed in, which ended up netting them a total of $5,000.”
Lasseter and Bussell competed strongly against a field of competitors looking to improve, as the duo caught a total of 10 fish weighing 24.12 pounds, allowing them to claim a 78th place finish.
Finishing in 80th place at the state tournament with a catch of 10 fish tipping the scales at 24.54 was Bullard’s Nelson and Davis.
The team of Geer and Kurtz was the final Panther team listed on the tournament’s final standings, as the pair’s catch of 10 fish weighed in at 20.77 pounds.
“In addition to Colby and Will, we had three other teams competing at state,” said Haugh. “I’m very proud of the group that was able to make it to state and competed. Almost all of our teams had a strong first day of fishing, and then we were met with a little adversity in day two where things didn’t go the way we planned for it to go, but we still finished sixth as a program – a remarkable achievement in my eyes especially since this was a very heavy-laden upperclassman group.”
With the final event on the THSBA 2017 competition calendar now in the history books, the Bullard Panther Fishing Club will turn their eyes to next year, as the East Division’s 2018-2019 season will begin Saturday, Sept. 29, on the waters of Lake O’ the Pines.
Other 2018-2019 THSBA East Division fishing tournaments will be held Saturday, Oct. 27 on Lake Palestine with weigh-in at Bullard High School; Saturday, Dec. 1, on Lake Bob Sandlin; Saturday, Feb. 9 on Lake O’ the Pines; and Saturday, March 9 on Lake Tyler.
The Regional event for the East Division will take place on Saturday, April 13, on Lake Palestine with weigh-in at BHS, while the state tournament is slated for Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12, on Cedar Creek Lake with weigh-in at Athens High School.