These anglers aren’t from the FLW Tour or Bassmaster — they are from Alabama high schools.
The third regional in the Alabama Student-Angler Bass Fishing Association will be held today at Smith Lake. The weigh-in for the one-day event will start at 2 p.m. at Smith Lake Dam. More than 200 boats from 50 schools will hit the lake starting at safe light.
Oakman will be among them.
The Wildcats, the only Walker County school with a bass fishing team, bring a home-lake advantage into the tournament.
Oakman has performed well at the first two regionals. The Wildcats had a boat place second at Weiss Lake in the first regional and the team took 24th out of 51 teams at Lake Guntersville in the second regional.
The Wildcats have high hopes competing on their home lake today.
Oakman angler Adam Grace and his father Brian Grace, a captain for the team, practiced on the lake on Friday.
“On my first cast, I caught a 6 1/2-pounder,” Adam Grace said. “We went out today and we found them. We’re ready.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Oakman’s Austin Millwood added. “Hopefully we will win. That’s what we plan on doing.”
Though no other Walker County team competes in the association, several schools from Jefferson County will hit the lake today, including Corner, Hayden and Mortimer Jordan.
At Oakman, the idea of a bass fishing team didn’t take long to gain popularity.
“It took off like wildfire,” Oakman bass fishing coach Brad Murray said. “I called it out one day in an announcement. I said we are going to have a meeting to see who would be interested in being part of a possible fishing team. I had 100 kids show up. We got it down to 20-something members. I don’t even have enough spots in boats for all of them. They are just chomping at the bit to get on the water.”
High schools across the state — from as far south as Dadeville and as far north as Hazel Green — will be represented today.
Murray feels high school fishing will become more and more common across the state.
“I think this will open a lot of people’s eyes. They haven’t been exposed to high school fishing,” Murray said. “They don’t realize how big it is with 200 boast coming in and 50 teams from all over the state competing.”
Members of this year’s Oakman bass fishing team are: Jake Jones, Case Key, Zack Fondren, Fisher Tubbs, Adam Grace, Austin Millwood, Austin Swindle and Jase Trotter. Captains are: Brian Grace, Mike Tubbs, Chris Swindle, Brian Jones and Brandon Jackson. The team is coached by Brad Murray.