High school fishing catching on in Vermont

Vermont high school bass fishing: Newest sport catching on

In the span of less than 12 hours this weekend, Essex High School senior Tim Yandow will go from trying to figure out the Lakers, to attempting to figure out what’s swimming in the lake.

Yandow is a lineman for the Hornet football team who will play against the Colchester Lakers in a Division I Friday night contest. He is also a member of the Essex bass fishing team, one of 15 teams heading out on the waters of Lake Champlain on Saturday for the inaugural Vermont high school bass fishing championship.

Earlier this year the Vermont Principals’ Association — the organization that oversees interscholastic sports in this state — approved bass fishing as an exhibition high school sport. Fifteen schools competed in the first event held last month on Lake Champlain out of South Hero, and those schools will return to the same boat launch Saturday to see who will be crowned the state’s first champ.

“I think we’ll have a really good tournament,” said Yandow. “There are a number of good teams and the fishing is really good right now. I think it’s going to be close.”

Besides Essex, other schools fielding teams include Colchester, Burr and Burton, South Burlington, Hartford and Mount Abraham. Bass fishing is a co-ed sport, and for now, Vermont’s tournaments are all held on Lake Champlain, which has acquired a well-earned reputation as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the United States.

While still in its infancy here, Vermont joins a growing list of states that offer bass fishing as a high school sport. Illinois was the first state to sanction it in 2009, and Kentucky followed suit in 2012. More than three dozen New Hampshire high schools now offer it, too, which is where Essex High School athletic director Jeff Goodrich got the inspiration to try it in the Green Mountain State.

“I had some conversations with other athletic directors a couple of years ago and we knew there was a growing interest in bass fishing,” Goodrich said. “We put it in front of the VPA and they gave us approval this year. By the time our first tournament rolled around in September, we had 15 schools fielding teams and more schools trying to figure out the best way for them to field teams for next year.”…Full Story