The Bullard High School Panther Fishing Club hooked success by the lips recently, as the team competed in the second event of the Texas High School Bass Association’s East Division, held Saturday, Oct. 21, on the waters of Lake O’ the Pines.
The team’s lines reeled in a successful team finish at the second THSBA East Division event, bringing in a third place team out of the 19 teams competing at the tournament.
“We always seem to do well on Lake O’ the Pines and this past event proved to be no different,” said Tim Haugh, Bullard Panther Fishing Club advisor. “Several of our returning teams fished really well simply because they know the lake a little bit better. We were a lot more prepared for this event than the last one on Lake Palestine. After the first event, I still wasn’t sure about what we had as a club, especially with the younger teams. Our veteran teams really pulled the weight, which was expected of them, but our younger teams were also able to make a big contribution to our success.”
In total, the fishing clubs from East Division schools fished 132 teams, catching a total of 306 fish tipping the scales at 683.51 pounds. Out of the large number of fish caught, a total of 303 fish (99 percent) were released back into Lake O’ the Pines.
The Bullard Panther Fishing Club was led by the strong finish by the team of Will Carlile and Zac Hastings, bringing home a strong fifth place finish with a catch of five fish weighing in at 14.92 pounds.
With the duo’s success, Carlile was able to hook the largest bass of the tournament at 6.64 pounds, earning him a prize of his choice of Costa Del Mar sunglasses, a retail value of $280. The team also received a plaque and Abu Garcia Ike fishing rods valued at $130.
The Panther Fishing Club also was propelled to the high team finish thanks to the performance of Jerrod Shrode and Reece Ricketts, placing 15th with a catch of five fish with a weight of 11.90 pounds.
The duo of Tyler Geer and Bailey Kurtz also had a good day on the waters of Lake O’ the Pines, placing 17th overall with a catch of five fish weighing at 11.55 pounds.
Also competing at the event was the team of Kaiden Simons and McKenna Davis, reeling in a catch of five fish weighing 8.82 pounds.
The Panther Fishing Club team of Colby Ferguson and Will McAllister provided the club with a solid performance, taking home a 55th place finish with a catch of one fish weighing 5.30 pounds.
Cade Hollingsworth and Hunter Vandenburg were able to bring in a total of two fish weighing 4.32 pounds, allowing the teammates to secure a 61st place finish.
The duo of Bryce Nelson and Brock Davis fished their way to a 66th place finish at the Lake O’ the Pines tournament, finishing with a catch of two fish weighing 3.73 pounds.
The team of Nick Craver and Nathan Ferguson also competed well for the Panther Fishing Club, allowing the team to claim a 73rd place finish with a catch of two fish weighing in at 3.35 pounds.
Also competing at the event was the team of Colton Long and Andrew McKeethan, with a catch of two fish weighing in at 2.95 pounds, good enough for a 78th place finish.
Aiden Pate and Logan Brown hooked an 81st place finish at the event thanks to their catch of one fish weighing in at 2.47 pounds.
The Panther Fishing Club team of Christian Wimmer and James Chancellor took home a 64th place finish at the tournament with one fish tipping the scales at 2.15 pounds.
Teammates Landry Lasseter and Chase Bussell were able to claim 86th place at Lake O’ the Pines with one fish weighing in at 1.97 pounds.
The final Panther Fishing Club Team to bring in a fish at the tournament was the team of Brandon Shanholtz and Esau Powell, placing 94th with a catch of 1.53 pounds.
Other Panther Fishing Club teams competing at the Lake O’ the Pines tournament included Callie Farr, fishing solo; and the team of Anna Taylor and Jon Bellanger.
With a total of two tournaments behind them, several teams of the Panther Fishing Club are in the hunt for the THSBA East Division Angler Team of the Year honor, as well as in good standings in hopes to qualify for the Regional event in April on Toledo Bend.
In the 2017-2018 season, teams in the top 40 percent of the THSBA East Division will advance to the Regional tournament, a change from the 50 percent qualifying mark from last season. Also advancing to Toledo Bend will be the THSBA East Division’s Team of the Year, allowing the winning club to advance all of their teams to the event.
“Last year, you had to be in the top 50 percent of teams in the THSBA East Division if you were not in the club named as the Team of the Year,” said Haugh. “Now, you have to be in the top 40 percent because of the growth of the THSBA organization. We now have a total of six divisions, which is two more than we had last year. We also have almost 1,200 teams, compared to the 970 teams a year ago. It’s become more popular because guys are allowed to fish against girls and vice-versa, as well as small 1A schools can compete against large 6A schools, and everywhere in between. There’s no other sport formatted like that in high school; it doesn’t matter if you go to a large school like Allen or a small school like Oakwood, you compete against everyone.”
Currently, the Panthers are in a tie for second place in the THSBA East Division Team of the Year competition with Tyler Robert E. Lee, as Whitehouse leads both teams. The Panthers are being led in the THSBA East Division Angler Team of the Year race by Carlile and Hastings, who are tied for 10th place with 970 points.
Panther Fishing Club teams currently within the 40 percent cut-off for the Regional event include Shrode and Ricketts (18th, 952 points); Geer and Kurtz (19th, 951 points); Ferguson and McAllister (T-24th, 942 points); Simons and Davis (T-29th, 921 points); Nelson and Davis (40th, 907 points); and Lasseter and Bussell (48th, 896 points).
Other Panther Fishing Club teams with a chance of making their way above the 40 percent line include Craver and Ferguson (T-58th, 875 points); Hollingsworth and Vandenburg (60th, 874 points); Shanholtz and Powell (79th, 846 points); Taylor and Bellanger (95th, 808 points); Farr (96th, 805 points); Pate and Brown (100th, 799 points); and Wimmer and Chancellor (101st, 796 points).
The Panther Fishing Club will compete next at the third THSBA East Division tournament of the 2017-2018 season, to be held Saturday, Nov. 18, on the waters of Lake Fork.
“Having success at Lake O’ the Pines will hopefully build excitement because now, the teams see that we’re sitting in second place and have a chance to move even closer to possibly being the Team of the Year. I hope that momentum will carry over. Lake Fork is a real tough tournament lake because it has a slot; any fish between 16 and 24 inches, you aren’t allowed to keep. Everyone dreams of catching a fish over 24 inches, but the key is to reeling in five fish that are 15 ¾ inches. We’ve had some success on Lake Fork before, but hopefully we’re able to go in and have a good day on the water.”