The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) honored three young freshwater anglers, a team of two and an individual, with plaques for special accomplishments at the FWC’s public meeting in Lakeland Thursday.
“Enthusiastic young anglers like these are representative of the Next Generation that Cares – those who will help promote active outdoor lifestyles that connect them with nature and encourage conservation stewardship,” Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management said. “Because they are role models to other kids, of all ages, the FWC is proud to highlight their accomplishments.”
High school bass fishing champions
The FWC recognized two freshmen from Bartow High School – Kaitlyn Boswell and Cole Schmucker – for winning the 2013 Florida Student Angler Federation State Championship. The tournament included high school teams from 41 schools across Florida.
Boswell and Schmucker won the championship on Lake Tohopekaliga, Kissimmee, earning a spot in the southern regional tournament this fall. Both students maintain excellent grade-point averages in school and hope to continue their competetive fishing careers at the University of Florida, winner of past Collegiate national championships.
The FWC is strengthening its partnership with FLW Outdoors and The Bass Federation (TBF), who sponsor the Student Angler Federation Florida High School Fishing State Championship and promote recreational fishing and conservation nationally. FLW Outdoors and TBF offer a national program for high schools that is established in 48 states and sanctioned in Illinois and Kentucky high schools. The FWC is laying the groundwork to incorporate bass fishing clubs into the Florida High School Athletic Association’s package of sanctioned sports.
Adrian “Lunker Louie” Echols was also recognized for his outstanding accomplishments as a young angler. He has joined the FWC’s TrophyCatch Club, and earned three major Big Catch recognitions.
“Louie is an excellent student, and his passion for fishing and the outdoors is an excellent example for kids getting outdoors and leading healthy lifestyles,” Champeau said. “We are proud to have Louie on the cover of our upcoming 2013-14 Florida Freshwater Fishing Regulations.”
Echols has his own popular Facebook page, titled “Fishing the Highlands with Louie.” Echols caught his first bass at age 3. He is currently one of the youngest members of the FWC’s TrophyCatch Lunker Club (see TrophyCatchFlorida.com), and he has numerous recognitions from the agency’s Big Catch Program, including Specialist, Master and Elite Angler Awards (see MyFWC.com/BigCatch). In earning his Elite Angler Certificate, Echols caught qualifying fish from 10 different species and earned his Bass Specialist recognition by catching more than five qualifying largemouth bass.
He also is the star of an episode of “Lunkerville Television,” titled “Louie, Louie,” which aired on World Fishing Network. He’s been featured in Field and Stream magazine as well as twice in Gaff Magazine and in the FWC’s Fish Busters’ Bulletin. Featured on the cover for the Highland County Lake Guide, Echols enjoys introducing his friends to fishing.
The FWC commends these young athletes and scholars for their conservation ethic and setting a positive example for their fellow students.