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Catch and Release

Catch and Release

by Heather Marie Redix

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” ~ Anne Isabella Ritchie

Its 4:45 on a Saturday morning. The sun is not yet up and the dew is thick on the grass outside. Most teenagers are still asleep, recuperating from the house party they attended the night before. But every once in a while, you come across a kid like A.J. Palmore, who is packing his pole and hitting the lake. He is preparing for another tournament and will be on the water well into the afternoon, searching for largemouth bass.

A.J. is one of 20 students that comprise the Genoa Central High School Fishing Team.  This organization was established in November of 2012 by father and son, Darren and Ryan Satterfield and Jordan Lemley.  This team is the only one of its kind in the greater Texarkana area. The founders knew that there was a need to create a club that was not typically found in most high schools, one that would be a great fit for many students in Genoa. Since its inception, the team has grown consistently over the past couple of years with a membership base comprised of students who share a great interest in fishing.

Although some of them are rookies, much of the team has fished since early youth. “I remember the first time I caught a fish,” team member Kamron Langford states, “I was around two years old and my parents found out because I stored it in my closet for a week.”

The team practices just like any other organized high school sport. Students showcase their skills by competing in local and national tournaments, some of which give winners scholarships for college. This past July, members of the team traveled to the annual High School Fishing World Finals in Russellville, Arkansas. They placed 12th among the 117 teams competing from across the country.

This particular tournament was sponsored by the Student Angler Federation (SAF), an organization created as a means to promote education through fishing. In an age where most teenagers would rather download a new app or run to the local gaming store to purchase the new edition of Madden Football, the SAF recognized that there are some kids who are more interested in the great outdoors. For $25 per student, the SAF provides high school fishing teams with significant tools like insurance, textbooks, and participation in fishing events.

Even though the team is considered a high school club, it receives no funding from the Genoa School District.  All the funds used to support the team come from parents, local sponsors, and fundraising events put on by the team itself. “This team has become what it is because of the support from the parents and others who genuinely want to see these kids do well with fishing,” A.J.’s mother Kim Palmore explains. “There are adults who volunteer their boat, their equipment, and their time and they don’t even have a child on the team.” Many of these adult volunteers serve as boat captains, which means that they spend hours on the boat supervising these kids. Local sponsors assist by giving the students free fishing equipment, writing checks to the school to support the teams’ competition trips, and participating in fundraising events that generate much needed financial assistance for the team. Fishing means a lot to these students. It is an outlet from many distractions of life. It keeps them motivated, teaches responsibly, and it provides them with skills they can utilize for the rest of their lives. 

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When asked what involvement with the team meant to Austin Cutchell, he stated, “Being a member of this team provides an opportunity for me to hang out with my friends and my dad, and create memories while doing something I love.”


Want to know more?

Student Angler Federation

www.highschoolfishing.org

Facebook.com/hsfishing

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