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Texas High School Fishing Event Fields 370 boats

A High School Fishing competition of epic proportions is brewing on legendary Sam Rayburn Reservoir, where more than 700 young anglers will square off Saturday, Dec. 6 in a Southeast Texas High School Fishing Association tournament.

"We had more than 370 two-person teams signed up as of Dec. 3," says association President Bryan Thomas of the event, which is believed to be the biggest high school tournament ever staged. Based at Umphrey Pavilion on the mighty impoundmentís southern shore, the event is the first of five regular-season tournaments for the 2014-2015 season.

Formed in 2013, the association is a testament to the growing popularity of the Student Angler Federationís High School Fishing program. Thanks to a partnership between FLW and The Bass Federation, SAF offers opportunities nationwide for high school-aged youths to experience the thrill of competitive bass fishing.

Encompassing 41 school districts and spanning a swathe of Texas stretching from Houston to the Louisiana line, the Southeast Texas High School Fishing Association serves more than 1,000 budding tournament anglers. The groupís first event, held Dec. 14, 2013 on Sam Rayburn, drew 262 registered teams.

Student anglers range in age from seventh to 12th grades, and Thomas notes that the program is attractive to boys and girls alike.

"Of our membership, between 20 to 30 percent of participants are girls," he adds.

Heading into this weekendís event, Thomas expects competitors to target bass buried in the lakeís storied grass beds with a variety of rattle baits and soft-plastic presentations. Teams are paired with an adult boat driver for safety and coaching purposes, and are allowed to fish from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. After that, they take their best five bass to the scale.

Each team pays a $40 per boat entry fee, which is returned to the field via a 100 percent payback, paid to each schoolís club for dispersal as dictated by district policy. "

We encourage schools to put the money in a scholarship fund," Thomas notes.

Despite the number of contestants, Thomas predicts a relatively short weigh-in.

"With more than 40 volunteers, and teams being allowed to weigh their fish early if they choose to do so, Iím guessing weíll be done in a couple of hours," he says.

Results will be posted on after the tournament.