The Bullard High School Panther Fishing Club was back the boats recently, as the program competed in the third Texas High School Bass Association event, held Saturday, Nov. 18, on the waters of Lake Fork.
At the event, the Bullard Panther Fishing Club cast their lines on good fortune, hooking a fourth place team finish in the field of 19 clubs participating in the tightly contested tournament, falling 1 ½ pounds shy of a first place finish.
According to Tim Haugh, president of THSBA and advisor for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club, the weather conditions the day of the event played a factor in the tournament’s eventual outcome.
“As far as the tournament, it was really rough,” said Haugh. “It was really windy throughout the entire tournament, which made it hard on a lot of teams. The good thing is that we are allowed to trailer during this event, which means anytime we want to move around the lake, we can put the boat on the trailer and move, instead of having to navigate a rough lake. Despite the weather, I believe we did pretty well with several teams placing in the top 30, which helped to move some of our teams higher in the standings.”
In total, the fishing clubs making up the THSBA East Division fished 130 teams, catching a total of 309 fish tipping the scales at 325.30 pounds, with 100 percent of the fish caught released back into the waters of Lake Fork.
Haugh said the rules on the waters of Lake Fork made it somewhat difficult for the young fishers, with Lake Fork limiting the size of each fish in a catch depending on length.
“The rules on Lake Fork are a little difficult to work with,” said Haugh. “Lake Fork is a slot lake, and you can’t keep a fish between 16 and 24 inches, which makes the event a small fish tournament where you have to string together several heavier fish that are smaller in length.”
Serving as the leaders for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club at the Lake Fork tournament was the team of Will Carlile and Zac Hastings, bringing home a strong fifth place finish with a catch of five fish weighing in at 6.33 pounds.
Also helping the team with their strong finish at the event was the duo of Landry Lasseter and Chase Bussell, claiming 15th place with five fish caught weighing 6.08 pounds.
The Panther Fishing Club team of Jerrod Shrode and Reece Ricketts also turned in a strong performance at the third THSBA East tournament, procuring a 24th place finish by reeling in five fish weighing 5.19 pounds.
Aiden Pate and Logan Brown fished their way to success for the program at Lake Fork, netting a catch of three fish tipping the scales at 4.88 pounds.
Bullard’s duo of Tyler Geer and Bailey Kurtz hooked a strong finish by the jaw, collecting 29th place at the tournament with a catch of five fish with a weight of 4.63 pounds.
Panther Fishing Club teammates Colby Ferguson and Will McAllister reeled in a strong catch of five fish on the waters of Lake Fork, weighing in at 3.26 pounds.
Assisting the club to its fourth place team finish at the tournament was the duo of Kaiden Simons and McKenna Davis, securing 49th place with a three fish catch weighing 2.93 pounds.
Bryce Nelson and Brock Davis also competed for the Bullard Panther Fishing Club at the Lake Fork tournament, placing 60th overall with a catch of two fish weighing in at 2.15 pounds.
Teammates Colton Long and Andrew McKeethan’s catch of three fish at the tournament allowed the pair to finish in 63rd place, weighing in at 1.86 pounds.
The Panther Fishing Club duo of Cade Hollingsworth and Hunter Vandenburg staked their claim to a 71st place finish with a weight of 1.52 pounds, reeling in a total of three fish.
Bullard’s team of Christian Wimmer and James Chancellor, as well as teammates Anna Taylor and Jon Bellanger, also competed for the team at the tournament, placing 90th with one fish weighing 0.72 pounds and 94th with once fish weighing 0.55 pounds, respectively.
Other Bullard Panther Fishing Club teams competing at the THSBA East Division Lake Fork event included Nick Craver and Nathan Ferguson; Callie Farr; and Brandon Shanholtz and Esau Powell.
With three tournaments behind them, several teams of the Panther Fishing Club continue to be in the hunt for the THSBA East Division Angler Team of the Year honor, as well as in good standings in hopes to qualify for the Regional event in April on Toledo Bend.
In the 2017-2018 season, teams in the top 40 percent of the THSBA East Division will advance to the Regional tournament. Also advancing to Toledo Bend will be the THSBA East Division’s Team of the Year, allowing the winning club to advance all of their teams to the event.
Panther Fishing Club teams currently within the 40 percent cut-off for the Regional event include Carlile and Hastings (T-4th, 1,460 points); Shrode and Ricketts (15th – 1,430 points); Geer and Kurtz (17th – 1,424 points); Ferguson and McAllister (24th – 1,401 points); Lasseter and Bussell (T-26th – 1,383 points); Simons and Davis (T-31st – 1,374 points); and Nelson and Brock (T-41st – 1,349 points).
Other Panther Fishing Club teams with a chance of making their way above the 40 percent line include Hollingsworth and Vandenburg (58th – 1,305 points); Pate and Brown (75th – 1,275 points); Long and McKeethan (T-83rd – 1,241 points); Shanholtz and Powell (89th – 1,228 points); Taylor and Bellanger (93rd – 1,216 points); Wimmer and Chancellor (97th – 1,208 points); Farr (101st – 1,187 points); and Craver and Ferguson (112th – 875 points).
Currently, the Bullard Panther Fishing Club is tied with the Lindale Eagles for second place in the THSA East Division’s Team of the Year standings with 291 points, slightly behind the Whitehouse Wildcats, with 300 points.
“We have a really good shot of several of our teams placing in the top 10 at the end of the season,” said Haugh. “That would be a pretty dominating performance. Whitehouse is definitely a tough team to compete against. They don’t have Team of the Year locked up just yet, but they are very close. We’re going to keep fighting, and anything can happen because it’s fishing. We get to end the season on a couple of lakes that we do fairly well on, so we’ll see what happens.”
The Panther Fishing Club will take a break for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year, picking up their rods and reels to compete next at the fourth THSBA East Division tournament of the 2017-2018 season, to be held Saturday, Saturday, Feb. 17, on the waters of Lake O’ the Pines.
Following the Lake O’ the Pines tournament in February, the Panther Fishing Club will take part in the final event of the 2017-2018 THSBA East Division regular season schedule, slated for Saturday, March 17, on Lake Palestine. The weigh-in event for the tournament will be held at Bullard High School.