WPHS fishing team has eye on more titles

Some of the members of the West Point High School fishing team are, from left, Bradley Johnson, Mollie Brown, Lidia Portera, Kenzie Bond, Dax Lewis, Brady Gaskin, Coach Tim White, John Austin Ricks, Matthew Bagwell, Drew Wright , Lacey White, Reed White, Garrett Edwards, Seth Edwards, and Jordan Camp.
Staff Writer

It already has one state championship under its belt and hopes for a two-peat in 2018. And it's got plenty of talented members to make a run at it.

It's the West Point High School fishing team.

Last year, Seth Edwards, who also plays baseball, and Jordan Camp teamed up to win the state High School Fishing Championship. Four team members -- Camp, Matthew Bagwell, Jake Donahoo and Tyler Alvis -- qualified for the 2017 National Championships.

With 16 team members, coach Tim White says the program continues to grow.

"If i had 20 more boat captains and boats, I could add 40 more kids," White said of the program which started five years ago but really has taken off in the last three years.

Boat captains are adults who go out with two-man teams in tournaments.

The team was scheduled to open the spring season this weekend with the Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Open in Columbus but the tournament was canceled because of unsafe water conditions on the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Camp and Bagwell won that tournament last year.

Camp and Edwards had been scheduled to fish in then tournament were Bagwell and Jake Donahoo. If it is rescheduled, it may give more West Point pairings a chance to compete.

The tournament attracts high school teams from throughout the Southeast.

Don't think fishing is all about guys.

The West Point team includes four female members.

"We have doubled our lady anglers from last year. We started out with two when the team got started. Now we are up to four. And don't let those pretty faces fool you, they can fish. They all have cashed a few checks this fall," White said of the winnings they can pick up in some tournaments.

In fact, the four women are among the top five on the team's internal rankings.

Like most sports, parents are critical, perhaps more so in fishing because of the boat and equipment required and the need for team captains.

"My kids' parents are one of a kind. They are always willing and eager to help. That is a blessing itself," White said.

Team members are paired up for 10 tournaments from Pickwick Lake on the north to Aliceville, Alabama on the south. They fished five tournaments in the fall and have five more this spring, kicking off this weekend and continuing through May 26.

One of the five spring tournaments is the high school state championship April 7 on Columbus Lake.

The pairs earn points based on the number of ounces of fish they catch in each tournament. After the 10 events, the top pair are named the team's "Anglers of the Year." They also earn points for rankings on other high school fishing tours, much like professional fishermen earn points on different circuits.

For the West Point team's internal rankings, Camp and Edwards are leading the way with 308.27 points with Molly Brown and Lidia Portera not far behind at 291.01. B. R. Watson, another baseball player, and Garrett Edwards are in third at 200.29, Reed White and Tyler Alvis are in fourth at 185.88 and Kenzie Bond and Lacey White are in fifth at 168.99.

While parents are important, the team also depends on sponsors to help cover equipment and tournament entry fees.

This year's sponsors include Jason Trustin at Shelter Insurance in West Point, Performance Automotive, David Dove Roofing, Hammer Fishing Rods and Big Bite Baits.


To help raise money to offset expenses, the West Point High fishing team will have a benefit tournament March 10 from the East Bank at the Stennis Lock and Dam on Columbus Lake.

Entry fee is $110 a boat including big fish. The team also is raffling off a Yeti Hopper 20 Leakproof cooler at $1 a chance. The cooler will be given away at the state championship April 7.

To enter the tournament, get in touch with White at 662-295-8946. For chances on the cooler, get in touch with any team member.