By Lucas Braschler
Some students prefer sleeping in and sticking to land on their weekends, but these students prefer waking up early and hitting the water.
The Newnan High School Anglers Club posted a top ten finish in a their first competition at Lake Seminole, where the team placed seventh.
At their second competition at Lake Eufala, the cougar anglers placed tenth out of over sixty teams. NHS Anglers have already qualified to fish at the state competition and are looking to qualify for the B.A.S.S. High School National Championship.
Drew Bowers and Drake Barlow, both NHS seniors, represent Cougar Nation out of the water and fish competitively around the state and region in tournaments through the NHS Anglers Club.
Mr. Brandon Hammond, NHS science teacher, sponsors the club and helps facilitate Drake and Drew’s success on the water.
The NHS Anglers Club competes against other high school fishing clubs in regional fishing tournaments, and this marks the first year that the club has taken on an official status.
At their first competition, the two set off into the cold water looking to start the season with a cougar-sized splash.
Drake and Drew have to wake up as early as five o’clock in the morning to gather their materials and supplies for the day. By seven thirty in the morning, the anglers are ready to set out for the water.
The morning of the competition, according to Drake, “started off dry,” but later, when the sun came out, “grab the net!” could be heard from Drew on the boat.
The two anglers each ended the day with solid catches and their impressive seventh place finish.
Drake and Drew are looking forward to fishing tournaments in the near future. Both, however, prefer the Lake Eufala tournament and called it their favorite.
“[Lake Eufala] is an outstanding fishery that has beautiful scenery and gives any ordinary angler a chance to catch a trophy fish,” Drake said.
The Anglers Club is more than just about casting lines in the water. The club also gives back to the community. This past summer, the club helped teach Boy Scouts to fish.
“Drake showed up every day and helped six and eight year old boys fish,” Mr. Hammond stated.
Mr. Hammond emphasized the club’s role in environmental conservation. The Anglers Club also donates their time to service projects clearing up at Chattahoochee Bend State Park.
“I sponsor the club, not only because the students asked me,” Mr. Hammond said, “but also because it feels like I am making a positive impact for this school and the environment.”
Drake and Drew have a strong role in running the club, and the team’s jersey’s were their own creation.
Mr. Hammond said his Boy Scout background helps him let Drake and Drew gather their own experience and allow them to take on some of the responsibility of the group. By allowing his fishers to take on more, Mr. Hammond is helping prepare them to handle a future transition to professional fishing.
Both Drake and Drew are learning how to manage expensive equipment and understand how to invest large amounts of potential prize money.
“It’s not what people think it is,” Mr. Hammond commented, “it’s not just fishing off a creek bank. It’s big time tournaments with money.”
Drake is already looking to upgrade his boat, using both money he has earned from working as well as prize money from fishing.
Mr. Hammond explained how learning to manage the prize money early on in their careers as fishermen will pay off in the future.
“They are already learning how to handle large amounts of money, so when they are ready for adult style tournaments, they know how to take large sums of prize money and make it last rather than blowing it all at the same time.”
The lesson will not be lost on Drake and Drew, who both plan to continue casting lines throughout the rest of their adult lives.