The Bullard Panther Fishing Club loaded the boats and hit the waters recently, as the program competed in the first event of the Texas High School Bass Association’s East Division Saturday, Sept. 23, on Lake Palestine, with weigh-in at Bullard High School.
The team was able to cast their lines well and hook success by the jaw at the first THSBA East Division event, securing a fifth place team finish out of the 17 schools competing in the tournament, just four points shy of the first place finish.
“I really didn’t know what to expect going into our first event this year because we lost a lot of teams from last year and had several new teams fishing with us,” said Tim Haugh, THSBA president and Bullard Panther Fishing Club advisor. “I’m pleased with our overall performance considering the way Lake Palestine was fishing; the lake was in the middle of turning over, and that makes the conditions pretty tough. Usually, it takes 20-25 pounds to win one of these events on Lake Palestine, but this time, it took only a little over 15 pounds to win. We had a team near the top of the leader board with a little over 12 pounds, while we had over 30 teams that didn’t even catch a fish, which proves the tough conditions.”
Throughout the event, the 131 teams participating were able to catch a total of 247 fish tipping the scales at 556.47 pounds, releasing 228 fish back into the waters of Lake Palestine.
The Bullard Panther Fishing Club was led by the strong finish by the team of Colby Ferguson and Will McAllister, placing sixth overall with a catch of five fish weighing in at 12.46 pounds.
Bullard Panther Fishing Club teammates Landry Lasseter and Chase Bussell also reeled in a good day on the water, catching five fish weighing in at 9.99 pounds, but were assessed a one-pound penalty for two dead fish, finishing with a weight of 8.99 pounds.
Will Carlile and Zac Hastings achieved a 27th place finish at the first THSBA East Division tournament with a total of four fish caught, weighing in a t 7.84 pounds.
Teammates Bryce Nelson and Brock Davis hooked a total of four fish weighing in at 7.66 pounds, allowing the duo to claim a 30th place finish.
Bullard Panther Fishing Club members Tyler Geer and Bailey Kurtz also represented the organization well at the Lake Palestine event, securing a 34th place finish with a catch of five fish weighing in at 7.22 pounds, but were assessed a .50 pound penalty for a dead fish, finishing with a weight of 6.72 pounds.
Immediately following the team of Geer and Kurtz was the Bullard Panther Fishing Club team of Jerrod Shrode and Reece Ricketts, taking home a 35th place finish with two fish weighing in at 6.46 pounds.
Teammates Kaiden Simons and McKenna Davis also found success at the THSBA Lake Palestine tournament, reeling in three fish weighing 4.79 pounds, but were assessed a .50 pound penalty, finishing with a weight of 4.29 pounds, allowing the duo to claim a 46th place finish.
Bullard’s Nick Craver and River Ferguson also competed for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club at the event, casting their nets on a 55th place finish with a catch of two fish for 4.69 pounds, but were assessed a one-pound penalty for two dead fish, finishing with a final weight of 3.69 pounds.
Bullard Panther Fishing Club members Brandon Shanholtz and Essau Powell had a good day on the lake during the event, finishing in 63rd place with a catch of two fish tipping the scales at 3.31 pounds.
The duo of Cade Hollingsworth and Hunter Vandenburg fished their way to a strong finish, catching a total of two fish weighing 2.81 pounds, allowing the pair to claim a 69th place finish.
Teammates Anna Taylor and Jon Bellanger were recognized as the 73rd place team at the THSBA East Division’s first event of the season, with a catch of one fish weighing in at 2.61 pounds.
Fishing by herself, Bullard Panther Fishing Club member Callie Farr caught one fish at the event weighing 2.01 pounds, allowing her to secure a 76th place finish.
A total of three Bullard Panther Fishing Club teams were unable to hook a catch at the THSBA Lake Palestine Tournament, as the teams of Colton Long and Andrew McKeethan, Aiden Pate and Logan Brown, and Christian Wimmer and James Chancellor all finished tied for 100th place overall with a total of 32 fishless teams.
The next event for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club will be the THSBA East Division’s second tournament Saturday, Oct. 21, on Lake ‘O the Pines, with weigh-in at Sandy Beach at Lakeside Park.
“I’m really looking forward to our next tournament on Lake ‘O the Pines,” said Haugh. “It’s going to take a little bit for some of our new team members to get used to fishing together, but when they do, they’ll start to show more progress just like any other sports team. The key to keeping the momentum up is having our fishers continue to practice because there is no good substitute for on-the-water practicing and experience. You can look at any kind of report or website that tells you what the fish are doing, but unless you are on the water and actually physically knowing what the fish are doing, it doesn’t matter. Lake ‘O the Pines is a lake we’ve had success on historically, and hopefully that will continue. We have several of our junior and senior fishers who have fished Lake ‘O the Pines a lot in the past and have experience in locating fish. We’ve got good history there, so we’re really looking forward to it.”