The Boyd County High School was transformed into a tackle shop on Saturday for the first ever Tackle Swap Meet.
The event brought anglers, with tackle to spare and a attracted a crowd of buyers, whose purchases will go a long way to help the newly spawned Bass Fishing Team and Club.
Coach Melvin Lawhorn said the event was a huge success, “It’s really been going good today.” Lawhorn organized the swap “as a way for all the area fisherman to come out and sell some of their stuff and raise some money.”
Some companies did donate items, but a majority of the tackle being sold was brought by fishermen like Mark Bayes, of Durbin.
He came out with dozens of items including rods, bags of soft baits and boxes of various lures on Saturday to “try to make a little bit of money and clean some clutter out of the garage.” Although he’s been fishing for decades, he considers himself “pretty much retired from it.”
A member of the Greenbo Bass Club for years, Bayes said he wanted to support the effort to attract more youth to the sport. “It’s a good thing for the kids,” he said. “There is just so much other stuff that isn’t good for them. The drugs. This is good wholesome fun,” he added.
That’s a sentiment Paul Arnett who plans to volunteer his boat for use by the team shares.
“Right now there are so many drugs for kids to get into, I feel like if you get them out into a sport like that it will keep them out of it. Get them on the right track,” Arnett said, adding “There is nothing better than these kids getting out hunting and fishing, it keeps them busy and keeps them off those Nintendo games and things.”
He hopes more individuals will get involved so children who might not otherwise have access to a boat can join the sport.
“If people want to get involved, I think it would be a good opportunity for them. I look for it to take off and be good for the kids,” Bayes said.
Lawhorn said he believes the sport will grow based on the response from the community and students.
“Not every student can participate in football, baseball, basketball. A lot of students from this area have been raised from the time they are old enough, like I was, to fish. This gives them something they can do. All they have to do is come and have an open mind and have a will to learn, and they can go far with this,” Lawhorn said.
Rick Perry, who has several children participating in the program, pushed hard for the school to add the sport when he found out it had been sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Not only do his children love it now, he said, but “it’s something they can do until they are old and gray and enjoy it the entire time.”
George Houston said the sport also opens up collegiate opportunities to the students. There are more than 200 colleges nationwide with competitive Bass fishing teams.
“I think it’s great,” he said of the program. “It’s an opportunity for them to get a scholarship, and It’s a wonderful opportunity just to go out and do some fishing,” he added.
Students are embracing both.
The two youngest anglers on the team are its only female members. Sixth-grade 12—year—olds Hannah Perry and Taylor Layne are just as excited as the older boys to get on the water and catch some big bass. Both have brothers on the team too. “It’s just a fun way to be outside after school if you want to do something for a team,” said Layne, noting it’s not as individually competitive as other sports.
“I like it because it is an excuse to fish more,” said Perry, whose been fishing for as long as she can remember. The best part about it, she added, is “I beat my brothers at it.”
Even though the girls will be too young to compete this year — they’ll be sitting on the boat as opposed to a bench — they are excited for the upcoming season.
Seniors Gaje Ayres, 17, and Caleb Rogers, 17, share that enthusiasm. The oldest members of the team are ready to hook some wins for the Lions in upcoming tournaments.
“Boyd County is going to make a name for itself in the fishing column,” said Ayres, “I’m excited about that.”
“It’s a month until regionals,” noted Rogers.
“We are going to state this year,” added Ayers.
The seniors have also been helping to coach the younger students, and it’s a role Rogers takes seriously.
“You get kids out in the outdoors, especially kids that may not have a whole lot of family, it keeps them out of trouble and gives them something to do,” he said.
Both said they wish the team had started earlier so they would have longer to participate. They aren’t the only ones.
“I would have loved it. Me and Dad go fishing all the time,” said Jordan Roberts, a 2008 BCHS graduate and a bass fisherman, who was at his alma mater Saturday supporting the event with trucks from his employer, Kentucky Automotive of Grayson.
He thinks the diversity will be good for students who might not get involved in a sport otherwise.
“It’s something different and fun. You don’t have to be real athletic to do it, anyone can learn how to cast, throw a rod and reel and catch some fish,” he said.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326—2653 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org