Calhoun High School’s Colton Cleveland, Aspen Martin and Jett Strickland, along with Gordon Central’s Dean Rice (formerly CHS), will be competing in the 12th annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship on Lake Hartwell June 30 through July 3 in Anderson, South Carolina.
All four local participants have been fishing together since middle school.
Both teams fish on the Amateur High School Bass Angler Trail. A fishing trail is a series of tournaments on a specific lake with rules that apply to that event. Prior to the set tournaments, the anglers must go and “pre-fish” or practice prior to the tournament, just like the professionals.
Participants depend on their boat captains for transportation, their fishing knowledge and their time. The boat captains for these anglers will their dads, Glenn Cleveland, Shane Rice, R.J. Martin, and Ross Strickland.
Colton and Dean finished as 2021 A.H.S.B.A. Anglers of the Year and both won $2003.00 each in scholarship money for post-secondary education. This money can be applied to either college or trade school education.
Aspen and Jett won their invitation to the Nationals by competing in the Student Angler Federation State Tournament this past March on Lake Lanier. On May 15th and 16th, they were the runners-up in the two-day, A.H.S.B.A. Classic on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
The A.H.S.B.A. tournament trail has been growing every year since its origination four years ago. Matt and his wife, Kristin, Martin, and James Hall all of Cartersville, organize these tournaments for these anglers. Anglers come from Carrollton, Jasper, and anywhere in between to compete. If you would like more information or would like to represent your school in competition, visit the A.H.S.B.A. Facebook page.
Local high school anglers raise money by obtaining donations from local businesses to help with tournament fees, fishing jerseys, and scholarship money. Depending on the donation amount, their business name is placed on their jersey. These jerseys are worn to every tournament and volunteer event.
As the participation in fishing has increased so has the fan base. The location where the anglers weigh in their fish, the audience could be up to 100 or more people. If you are interested and would like your business advertised or any 6th through 12th grade student in the Calhoun or Gordon County school systems who is interested in fishing may contact Jamie Mills at 770-317-2203.