High school fishing

Boats set out early in the morning for a NWGHSAA tournament on Lake Chickamauga at Chester Frost Park back in April of 2016. Prep anglers will take the water again at the same location this Saturday morning in their first bass fishing event since March 14.

The Northwest Georgia High School Anglers Association's fishing tournament on Lake Guntersville in Alabama on March 14 was one of the very last high school sporting events held before shutdowns were put into place in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

And on Saturday, that organization will be the first in the area to start back up.

The NWGHSAA will be the first tournament allowed to be held in nearby Chattanooga as prep anglers and their boat captains will vie for the top spot on Lake Chickamauga at Chester Frost Park.

Registration will begin early on Saturday morning with boat launch scheduled for first safelight, at approximately 6:15 a.m. A video, posted on the organization's Facebook page on Wednesday night, said the boat launch will be shown on Facebook Live and that the weigh-ins will also be shown on Facebook Live, starting at around 2 p.m.

Plans for personal safety and social distancing were also discussed in the video, which can be seen in its entirety on the organization's Facebook page in the "Videos" section.

The group has tentatively scheduled two more events in June, one on Weiss Lake in Alabama on June 13 and "The Classic" on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tenn. on June 27. They are actively searching to try and add another tournament date between May 9 and June 13.

According to the video, this year's season-ending awards banquet is set for July 14, but it will likely be just an awards show and most likely a virtual one, featuring coaches and seniors only, unless state guidelines change before then.

The video also said the Battle of Chickamauga Classic tournament has been moved to Sept. 25 on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tenn. and that seniors in the Class of 2020 will be allowed to fish in the event. More details on that tournament can be found at battleofchick.com.

The NWGHSAA is one of the largest high school bass fishing clubs in the country. Founded in Sept. 2014, its purpose - according to its website - is to promote "sportsmanship, conservation, life skills, character, citizenship and teamwork, all while practicing the Golden Rule, through the sport of competitive bass fishing."

The organization currently includes 18 high schools in the counties of Catoosa, Walker, Dade, Chattooga, Gordon, Whitfield and Murray. It is not affiliated with the Georgia High School Association.

On Jan. 21, 2020, the GHSA announced the addition of bass fishing to its lineup of sponsored sports and activities beginning in the 2020-21 school year. It will be a co-ed sport featuring four state qualifying tournaments, held in different areas of the state, beginning in January. The open state championship is slated for either March or April. The exact schedule will be published every July or August of the new school year.

The GHSA will partner with the Bass Federation, the Student Angler Federation and the FLW.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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