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South Effingham bass fishing team preparing to make first casts
Bass fishing
South Effingham has 10 anglers set to compete on its first bass fishing team. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — South Effingham’s first bass fishing team has hooked 10 members who are ready to hit a lake.

Coach Blake Johnson met with his anglers and their parents Thursday to talk about the upcoming season.

“I'm real excited to be a part of this,” Johnson said. “This is something that’s new across the state as far as being a recognized sport (by the Georgia High School Association).”

Johnson, in his fifth year of teaching but first at South Effingham, said getting ready for the debut season has been “chaotic.” Most of the issues stem from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Saying that, there are still a lot of questions that I have about how things will work between now and May, which is when the state tournament will be,” he said. “In the last two or three weeks, they have started throwing information out there.”

The competitive structure of the sport is known. The anglers will compete in pairs in one boat that will include a captain. The captain may not help the competitors in any way beyond piloting the boat.

Teams can enter multiple boats per tourney.

Anglers must place in the top 15 at one of four qualifying events to advance to the state tournament. There will be one qualifier per month starting in January.

The qualifiers are set at Lake Seminole, West Point Lake, Lake Oconee and Clarks Hill Lake. The state tournament is slated for Lake Lanier.

Johnson told his anglers that they must get a physical in order to be on the team. They also discussed the acquisition of equipment, a fishing license, a jersey and a beanie.

Boats will be provided by parents.

The team is searching for sponsors to help defray the cost for the students and their parents. Twenty donors’ logos will be featured on the team’s jerseys.

“This is a non-revenue sport,” Johnson said. “People aren’t going to pay money to come watch us fish so the expenses will be falling on us.”

The anglers, who discussed fund-raising ideas, are also in need of places to practice their craft.