BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When the inaugural Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine kicks off on Oct. 15, 85 gifted anglers from 28 states will have the opportunity to showcase their talents for a host of college coaches. The three-day event will be held on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala.
“Response to the inaugural High School Combine has been incredible,” said Hank Weldon, senior manager of the B.A.S.S. College and High School program. “The fact that high school anglers are traveling here from as far away as California, New York and Maine really speaks to the massive growth and appetite for high school and college bass fishing over the past few years. The college coaches are going to be incredibly impressed by the skill level that will be on display.”
Among the athletes attending the combine are 31 students who competed in July’s Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors and 11 anglers who were named to the 2021 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
“This event gives us a great stepping stone to the next level by connecting us with college coaches and allowing us to showcase our skills against others from around the country,” said Cole Moulton of Enfield, N.H., a member of the prestigious 2021 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. “Also, the combine allows me to see how my skills match up against some other very talented anglers from across the country, which in return will help me improve.”
At the High School Combine, anglers will perform multiple tasks to show their skill set not only on the water but also to display their knowledge of the sport as a whole. After the first day, colleges will have the opportunity to select anglers for a “second look” where they can further explore everything that angler has to offer and see if they would be the perfect fit for their fishing program.
The opportunity to meet individually with prospective anglers is critical for coaches.
“To me, there is no magic equation for an angler to present, but experienced, well-rounded anglers and students who are interested in an opportunity to compete are easier to spot than one might think,” said Coach Seth Borton of Adrian College, which claimed its first Bassmaster College Series National Championship earlier this summer. “For me, it's all about face-to-face interaction. Usually a few questions and a couple of fishing stories later the picture doesn't take long to paint.”
While the High School Combine provides an unprecedented chance for young anglers to get in front of championship-caliber college programs, the coaches themselves are eagerly anticipating an opportunity to recruit more effectively.
“The biggest difference between what I do as a fishing coach versus most sports is that I’m a one-man staff for evaluation and anything that can help me save time is very valuable,” said Coach John Pollard of Faulkner University. “This combine will help me do more evaluations for more prospects in three days than I can normally do in several months. As a coach and recruiter, this is an exciting opportunity to evaluate and make contact with 85 anglers who are eager to continue their competitive angling in college.”
Only colleges offering bass fishing scholarships were invited to attend. The following schools will participate in the inaugural Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine:
- Adrian College
- Bethel University
- Blue Mountain College
- Bryan College
- Calhoun College
- Campbellsville University
- Carson-Newman University
- Dallas Baptist University
- Drury University
- East Texas Baptist University
- Emmanuel College
- Faulkner University
- Florida Gateway College
- Kentucky Christian University
- Lander University
- Lenoir-Rhyne University
- Louisiana State University - Shreveport
- Troy University
- University of Montevallo
- Wabash Valley College
For more information, visit Bassmaster.com/high-school.