There are a lot of young fishing enthusiasts in Tipton County.

Starting this fall, those people who attend Brighton High School will have a chance to do what they love and compete for their school.

Brantley Tillman, an administrator at Brighton High, tried to form the school’s first bass fishing team last year, but COVID ruined those plans.

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This year, however, things are moving forward and eight to 10 Brighton students will hit area lakes in the coming months to compete in tournaments.

“Some senior guys came up to me and said they wanted to do this so I started working on it,” Tillman said.

The team will be associated with the Tennessee Bass Federation. Two-person teams will ride in a boat with an adult captain. There will be three tournaments in the fall and three more in the spring followed by a state tournament in June.

Most of the tournaments will be on Kentucky and Pickwick lakes. Other high schools in the area with bass fishing teams include Henry County, Obion County Central and Scotts Hill. Brighton is the only school in Southwest Tennessee with a bass fishing team.

Tillman said one of the biggest obstacles facing the team is finding a boat.

“Boats are expensive to own,” Tillman said. “I’ve had some people say they will help with boats and be a captain. Once kids decide they want to compete I’m trying to help them find a boat.”

Tennessee high schools began forming bass fishing teams about 15 years ago. The sport is not sanctioned by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Tillman and members of the team. They just want to fish and compete.

Teams usually submit their five biggest fish and team with heaviest haul wins.

“It’s basically like any other sport,” Tillman said. “The ones who are mentally tough are the ones who are going to be able to get through it. A tournament is eight to nine hours long and you might go seven hours without a bite. At the end you have to be mentally tough and keep fishing the way you trust.”

Jeff Ireland
Author: Jeff Ireland

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