Florence, Ala., – June 27, 2018
Record-Crushing Turnout at 2018 High School Fishing World Finals and TBF/FLW National Championship on Pickwick Lake
Florence, AL – June 26, 2018
The TBF Student Angler Federation, (SAF) and its partners in fishing at FLW are once again hosting the widely popular and ever growing high school fishing, the 2018 High School Fishing World Finals, June 26-30. The 2018 National Championship is also being held this week in conjunction with the pinnacle event on Lake Pickwick in Florence, Ala., hosted by Florence-Lauderdale Tourism. The event will boast over $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, more than double the sponsor swag, giveaways and drawings, plus a week of family fun – all with no entry fees.
Since TBF founded SAF and the first in the nation National High School Fishing program in 2007 the trajectory has been nearly straight up. This year, 384 teams of high school anglers traveled from 35 different states to put their skills to the test. Tomorrow, these student anglers will kick off the tournament launching from McFarland Park. Tonight, they were greeted by a welcome banquet full of sponsor swag, giveaways, dinner by local favorite, 508 BBQ, guest speakers, a rules meeting and more.
TBF President and CEO, Robert Cartlidge, addressed the room attesting to the success of the company and the program, what it means to the sport and announced an all new program for 2019 to promote high school fishing everywhere.
“Since we founded the National SAF high school fishing program in 2007 it has grown substantially due to the incredibly support of our sponsors, parents, boat captains and young anglers just like those sitting in the Coliseum tonight,” Cartlidge said. “SAF, along with our partners in fishing at FLW, will continue to work tirelessly to make sure events like this are possible.
So tonight, we are thrilled to announce that we will invest more and take High School and Youth fishing to the next in conjunction with our TV partners at the Pursuit Channel and will have an entirely new 13 week block on the Pursuit channel in 2019 dedicated to SAF High School Fishing and our youth programs. During this new 13-week block of Federation Angler TV on Pursuit, we will be highlighting SAF clubs and SAF Sanctioned circuits and trails from across the globe so stay tuned for more on that as we cannot wait to see what the future holds for these young men and women both in the industry and in life – and with the talent of these young people in this room the sky is the limit.”
The top ranked college fishing program in the nation, Bethel University, has offered scholarships to our champions for the past several years,” Cartlidge continued. “This year they have went above and beyond by offering not only a $28,000, four-year scholarship award to the highest finishing eligible Junior and senior team for $56,000 total but also a $20,000, four-year scholarship award to our 2nd highest finishing eligible team members for another $40,000 scholarship. This commitment alone speaks volumes about the growth and future our sport and if you want to be the top ranked college fishing program in the nation as Bethel is, then you recruit the best high school anglers right here with SAF.”
Guest speakers and dignitaries in attendance included Mayor Steve Holt of the City of Florence and the Manager/Sport and Event Sales Director of Florence Tourism, Suzie Shoemaker. Numerous sponsors were also present to greet the young anglers and speak to the anglers. SAF sponsors include Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Lowrance, Evinrude, Motorguide, FAVORITE fishing, Lew’s, Rapala, Live Target, Navionics, BlackFish Gear, Okuma, Faculty of Fishing, St. Croix, BOOYAH, the Pursuit Channel, MOVEU Apparel Berkley, VMC, Quantum, Eagle Claw TroKar, iCatch, TH Marine, Tournament Trail Ink and, of course, SAF’s longtime partners in fishing at FLW.
“The high school fishing program is such an important program for helping young conservationists to protect and enjoy our natural resources,” FLW National Youth Director, Scott Ellison, said. “This week’s events are a wonderful way to celebrate these talented young anglers from around the nation and the sport of high school fishing.
There is still plenty of work to be done to further the growth of our sport at the high school level and FLW is excited to continue those efforts with our tremendous partners at TBF.”
Wednesday and Thursday the whole field will compete both on the HSFWF and National Championship pools. Then, on Friday the top 10 National Champion contenders will see one team crowned that team will walk away with a $10,000 scholarship provided by FLW. All other teams will be competing for the remaining 21 HSFWF slots in Saturday’s final plus one lucky dog drawing, which will be picked at random at Friday’s Senior Night presented by FAVORITE fishing.
Daily weigh in begin at 1:30 pm CST from Mcfarland park and live on highschoolfishing.org as well as on Facebook. Attendance is free and open to the public. The stakes have been raised and the stage has been set now just four days of competition separate these young anglers from all the glory.
The SAF Mississippi High School State Championship was held on April 7 on Columbus Lake, in Columbus, Ms. It was a tough day of fishing for the 37 teams combined with bitter cold temperatures and high winds.
James Willoughby and Ashton Saucier of the West Harrison High School Hurricanes Fishing Team brought in five bass weighing 14.04 pounds to be crowned 2018 Mississippi High School Fishing State Champions.
Coming in second place was Drew Lockhart and Easton Higginbotham from Amory High School with five fish weighing 13.06 pounds. Third place went to Brandon Bell and John Cox from Starkville High School with five fish weighing 11.82 pounds. Fourth place went to Garrett McWilliams and Addison Yates from Discovery Christian School with four fish weighing 10.84 pounds they also won the Lew’s Big Bass Award with a 4.54 pound big bass.
The top three teams will advance to the 2018 National Championship to be held June 25–30, 2018 at McFarland Park, Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala.
Mississippi SAF extends a big, “Thank you,” to their sponsors and the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau.