La Plata High School is well-known for golf, lacrosse, wrestling and baseball, but it may be known for another sport soon. Bass fishing is an emerging sport in Maryland, and some La Plata students have a serious interest in it.
Two years ago, current La Plata senior Steven Wannall presented the idea of making a bass fishing
team for La Plata High School. Although the sponsorship never came through, the large amount of student interest prompted Wannall and his fellow fishermen to embark on their own, seeking sponsorships from fishing companies and organizations to help fund their newly-developed team.
Currently the Maryland chapter of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, or BASS, helps with funding for boats. The local community also supports the fishing team to a certain extent.
Although considered a hobby by many, bass fishing is an internationally-recognized sport. Senior fisherman Anthony Blakenship said, “You can bass fish [and] go to ponds and do it, but the
whole reason it’s considered a sport is because of the tournaments.”
In 2013, Wannall and alumnus Evan Stewart took home first place in the Maryland BASS Nation’s high school championship. They started well out of the gate, winning the state championship their first season. Additionally, Wannall won the prestigious Bunker Fishing Award.
Fast forward to Oct. 5, 2014: a bass fishing tournament at Smallwood State Park, a cold Sunday morning. At 6 a.m., 14 fishing teams from different schools set sail anxiously. The weather wasn’t exactly ideal for anglers hoping for big catches: the temperature was around 50 degrees, and the cold fronts hurt the chances of catching fish.
Yet La Plata’s Austin Angler and Johnny Marshall won third place at the tournament. Their two fish weighed in at 4.60 pounds, earning them a sum of $100. “The fishing was tough; first place only caught two fish,” Wannall said.
Johnny Marshall, Austin Ager, Steven Wannall, Jake Savio, Anthony Blankenship, Matt Reese, Will Gordon and Austin Orth as a whole come together to form La Plata’s bass fishing team. Although they are still young, the team’s recent successes prove they have what it takes to grow as a unit.