GHSA bass fishing action saw Swainsboro High School and Emanuel County Institute’s teams travel to LaGrange a few weekends ago, and both groups had angler teams boat a fish during the outing.
The tournament at West Point Lake on March 19 served as Swainsboro’s second state qualifying event. Four teams, eight anglers total, represented the Tigers at that time: Zachary Raines and Bo Brown, Tyson Gentry and Manuel Bustamante-Ramirez, Savannah Skipper and Callie Powell, and Dalton Hopkins and D’Andre Smith. They were assisted by boat captains Allen McDaniel, Matt Braswell, and Patrick Brown as well as program coach Hunter Braswell.
Of Swainsboro’s eight anglers, seven went on to land a fish.
Gentry and Bustamante-Ramirez led the way for SHS with 3 fish for a total of 5.11 pounds. Hopkins and Smith also bagged 3 fish for a slightly lower total, 3.11 pounds. Raines and Brown were able to boat 2 fish for the day while Skipper and Powell were able to boat 1 on the day.
Unlike Swainsboro, the West Point Lake tournament was ECI’s first (and only) event this year.
Coach Amy Johnson McBride explains the board of education’s approval for both high schools to participate in GHSA bass fishing came with one condition: they could only compete in one tournament during the inaugural year.
Swainsboro, however, was permitted to fish two tournaments on the sole basis that its team was too large to allow for all anglers to compete in one tournament at once. (Each school, according to GHSA rules, can enter six boats per tournament while Braswell’s team had seven.)
ECI’s team was made up of Trevor Radford, O’Zion Reese, Hunter Lane, Spencer Lawrence, Anna Hayslip, Olivia Boatright, and Weslyn Snellgrove. All of these anglers traveled to West Point Lake, except Lawrence and Snellgrove. Captains included Joseph Diekemper and Matt Lane.
Johnson says her team caught a few fish but none that met the legal qualifications.
All in all, the West Point event culminated Swainsboro and ECI’s first-ever bass fishing seasons. Both coaches say this year—the last tournament included—came with a learning curve, loads of support, experience-building, and, most of all, fun for students.