Due to COVID-19 the Zion Chapel Bass Team has been missing their tournament fishing. As a matter of fact, they were in route to Lay Lake for their March tournament and received a call from Alabama BASS Nation High School headquarters informing them that the tournament had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 mandates. Thus, they turned around in Montgomery and headed home with much disappointment.
Although they were disappointed, they were reminded that there could be more serious calls. On this note, the ZC Bass Team extends their thoughts and prayers to the families of two high school bass anglers and their captain of the Obion County Central High School in Pickwick on the Tennessee River. This team was fishing in a tournament and never returned for the weigh-in. It was almost two weeks before all the bodies were recovered. This is a reminder of the importance of following all safety rules, but accidents can happen.
Although the team has not been able to fish together during these difficult times, they have been busy. Some were able to attend the BASSMASTER CLASSIC in Birmingham as spectators in March. They enjoyed seeing the displays of many vendors and were able to meet some of the pros.
During these unsettling times, BASSMASTER launched a new initiative called “Live Smart, Fish Smart.” With states enforcing more and more restrictions daily, those with a passion for the outdoors have been searching for ways to stay connected to the things they love. BASSMASTERS has tried to stay connected to young anglers by sharing videos and activities to help them improve their skills.
High School and College Anglers were encouraged to support this new initiative by sending photos and videos of their fishing, spending time with family, or working on a project at home. BASSMASTER shared these for other anglers to enjoy and stay connected.
As individuals, not as a team, some of the ZC anglers and their boat captains continued wetting lines and catching some big ones. In other words, The COVID-19 pademic kept the ZC anglers from fishing as a team, but they found some small local tournaments to fish for practice. They weighed in 12 pounds and caught the biggest spot when they fished at Lake Jordan the first weekend in May. That same weekend some team members had good luck while turkey hunting. These young guys are true outdoorsmen.
On May 8, the Alabama BASS Nation High School Staff announced that the second half of the season would kick off. In the announcement to continue this journey, many things were changed due to the current situation. They were required to implement new measures as precaution for anglers, staff, and public safety. Regardless of the more stringent guidelines, the ZC Bass Team began making plans to participate in their first tournament since COVID-19. They were scheduled to fish at Lay Lake in Clanton on June 20.
In the meantime, a few of the ZC anglers participated in the “clean-up” challenge on Lake Eufaula, June 13. This was an opportunity for them to display their commitment to conservation of our aquatic and natural resources. This event was sponsored by BASS Nation who strongly encourages young anglers to be mindful of ways to conserve our natural resources.
Their first tournament since COVID-19 looked so different. No spectators were allowed at launch and weigh-in. Supporters were able to watch live on Facebook. The launch began at 5 a.m. with the playing of the national anthem, and the weigh-in began at 1 p.m.
The ZC anglers’ finishes were not what they had hoped they would be, but that is tournament fishing. They experienced troubles that cost them fish (broken live well, broken rods, and spots previously fished came up empty). However, these determined anglers never gave up; they fished until the last minute. With 130 boats competing, Team Dowdy/Jacobs finished 76th place with a limit of three fish weighing 4.37 pounds. Team Devos/Lee finished 108th place with a weigh-in of 1.56 pounds. Team Padgett/Young finished in 48th place with a limit of three fish weighing 6.32 pounds, but they had a dead fish due to a broken live well and ended with 6.07 pounds. after the penalty.
This was the first year as the Zion Chapel Bass Team, and at the end the year, their results show that these anglers finished well. There were 214 high school boats that fished this tournament trail. The team of Padgett/Young finished 21st, team Devos/Lee finished 40th, and team Dowdy/Jacobs finished 85th. As a result of these finishing numbers two of the ZC teams qualified to compete in the state high school championship at Lake Guntersville July 24th and 25th. These teams are anxious to finish their season well and get ready for the next year of competition. The new schedule has been released. They are looking forward to another year of competition fishing.
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