Friday, August 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> NPHS 12th at world fishing tournament

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski’s fishing program is fast becoming one of the premier fishing programs in the state. For the second time in three years, a North Pulaski team garnered a top-12 finish in The Bass Federation High School World Fishing Finals.

John Ball and Joe Sigler finished 12th in the event at Lake Dardanelle in mid-July. There were 133 teams from all over the country and Canada competing in the week-long event. Two years ago, Ball and now graduated Kendall Long finished fourth for the school’s highest placement to date.

“We just have a blast doing it,” NP fishing coach Robbie Walker said. “The format changed this year and that presented some new challenges, but we adjusted our approach and everything worked out pretty well for us.”

The NP team had to make a late decision to abandon its primary fishing spot when, in the final round, fish weren’t biting.

“We fished until about 11 and had one fish in the boat,” Walker said. I could tell the kids were getting discourage so I said let’s make a move. We turned back about 15 or 20 minutes and got caught in a storm. We went under a boat dock for about 15 minutes until the storm passed because the lightning was really popping out there. After the storm passed we ran up to a place we’d been before, and in the first three or four casts we had two fish in the boat. We had to be in by 2:45, so we kept fishing until right up until we had to leave, and in our last three casts we got two more fish and got our limit.”

The Saturday total for Ball and Sigler was 12.5 pounds.

“They averaged right at about 12 pounds every day of the tournament,” Walker said.

After two days of scouting the lake, North Pulaski settled on the same site it fished last year once competition began on Wednesday. Last year, the spot was all their own. That changed this year, and that’s why Walker believes the spot dried up on Saturday.

“We’ve never seen another team back there because it’s not an easy place to get to,” Walker said. “This year there were three or four other teams that followed us back in there. One team from Texas came in and dropped10 to 15 yards right in front of us. What they did wasn’t really illegal, but it was unethical for tournament fishing.

“The spot is only about a 150-yard stretch of bank, but it’s a deep drop in there and the bait fish will come in there. But it holds a limited number. It’s really good for about one team every other day. The way people were fishing it this year, it just wasn’t that big of a spot.”

This year, instead of accumulating weights each day of preliminaries, weights were zeroed after the second day on Thursday. The North Pulaski team had a great day on Wednesday and needed only to catch one fish on Thursday to qualify for Friday’s second round.

“We just ran around the lake and left our fish alone,” Walker said. “We caught one just playing around and then went back to our spot on Friday to try to get to the finals. I told the kids if we catch 12 pounds, we’ll be really close, but 12 pounds wouldn’t have got us to finals.”
The team again caught 12.5 and squeaked in as the last qualifier for Saturday.

There were 20 qualifiers and one wild card, so 21 teams made it to Saturday. We got 12th out of 133, so that’s a pretty good tournament.”