High school anglers are attentive students

Tokay High fishing club teaches more than angling skills

Tokay High teacher Rich Anema wishes all his students were as attentive, hard-working, cooperative and sticklers for detail and preparation. Surprisingly, he finds these attributes are pervasive in one particular group: The Bass Fishing Club.

“They’re the kind of students you love to have in the classroom,” said Anema, a dedicated fly fisher and advisor to the fledgling second-year club. “Their discipline and competitive nature carries over in their studies, where they are very detailed in what they do.”

Cameron King, 17, a senior at Tokay is club president, and leads a six-angler team – the most competitive members of the club — against other Central Valley high schools in tournaments that span from Pine Flat Reservoir, Lake McClure and the Delta to Folsom Lake. There are four tournaments each in the fall and winter semesters.

“We fish in pairs finished among the top 5 to 10 in every event,” said King, proudly.

In competition, every fishing boat carries two anglers and is driven by an advisor 19 years or older to cover liability and ensure safety.

Why does King like competitive bass fishing so much?

“A lot has to do with fellowship, doing well as a club, gaining confidence and learning about serious black bass fishing,” he said, in hopes his fishing prowess will lead to a university scholarship.

His goal: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he intends to study agri-business and be a member of the college bass fishing team.

King’s biggest largemouth bass is a whopping 12.5-pounder, a prize so large, most anglers will never hook one anywhere near that size in their lifetime. He caught it last autumn in the Delta, flipping a jig in dense vegetation. When the bass hit the jig and took off, he knew it was something special.

“I’d never had a pull like it before,” King said. “At first I thought it might be a striped bass, it was so strong. When the fish jumped a time or two, I could see it was a monster largemouth. After my partner netted it, we kept it in a live well, ran to the marina to weigh it and take a photo, before releasing it.”

Anema said all club members – Tokay has all boys but some schools have girls — are ethical and this discipline carries over in life, as well as at high school.

“They wear their fishing jerseys to school, have a spot in the year book and are recognized by their peers,” he said. “This motivates them to want to do well, participating in an unusual sport many find so different.”

Mike Calosso of Stockton is King’s grandfather. He provides the young angler handy man work during holidays and summer vacation, and sees the benefits of competitive angling.

“Cameron is maturing,” Calosso said. “I’ve noticed he is really competitive, straight forward and honest. While working for me, I can see these attributes develop.”

The day after Christmas, King was out of the house by 5 a.m. and headed for a frigid Camanche Lake, where temperatures hovered in the 20s. When I called him for an interview, he talked on a cell phone and continued to fish, while patiently answering questions….Read More