Bass group adds prep division

Looking to the future, the officers and directors of the Association of Louisiana Bass Clubs unanimously approved adding a Junior Division to its ranks.

The ALBC is the state’s largest bass fishing organization, and adding this new division will infuse new blood into the 43-year-old group.

Young anglers ages 14-18 can participate, but must be enrolled in high school to join.

“We are very excited about the addition of a Junior Division,” ALBC president Dan Touchet said. “It is a win-win situation for not only the association but for all of the kids as well. We are just starting to get the word out around the state, but all the feedback has been very, very positive. It is full steam ahead with everybody.”

While the idea may still be in its infancy, it has already picked up one very big supporter in State Sen. Gerald Long (R-Winnfield).

“He (Long) plans on introducing legislation this year to make bass fishing a high school sport, which would be a definite boost to our efforts to attract teams and younger fishermen into the association,” Touchet said.

Bass fishing is offered as a club sport in most state high schools, and is not sanctioned by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.

The Bass Federation (TBF), in partnership with FLW Outdoors, offers a Student Angler Federation, and more than 100 colleges have established teams and scholarships for B.A.S.S. and FLW college competition, but only three states — Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina — offer fishing as a sanctioned high school sport.

Touchet said he hopes that will change in Louisiana, and said he believes this first step by the ALBC will help boost efforts to make it a high school sport.

Two high schools have already joined the ALBC and Touchet said more than 20 schools have shown an interest in the program.

“We have put together a specific set of guidelines in order for a team to join the ALBC,” Touchet said.

The guidelines include:

  • High school teams are to be made up from the local high school the team attends. Teams are not to be made up of members from different high schools.
  • All high school team members must belong to the ALBC. There will be a $10 membership fee.
  • All high school teams may set their own rules and set their own dates for their club tournaments.
  • All high school teams must have a sponsor. It can be a volunteer, teacher and/or a local bass club.
  • When a high school team participates in an ALBC-sponsored tournament, the junior members must be accompanied by an adult and that adult must be the boat operator, and must show proof of insurance on the boat being used. The junior members should operate the trolling motor while fishing.
  • Junior members may also help sell ALBC statewide raffle tickets and receive one-third refund of raffle tickets sold to be used by their team or club.
  • All junior members must abide by all state and federal laws.
  • As an enticement to the high school teams, the ALBC will conduct a District Junior Division tournament in the ALBC’s six districts.
  • Each high school junior division team in each district will be eligible to participate. The winning team from each district will be invited to attend the ALBC Best Six Tournament (May’s first weekend on Toledo Bend) to participate in the Junior Division State Team Tournament. This will be a one-day tournament event for the junior division.
  • Plaques and trophies will be awarded to the winners and one high school team will be crowned as the best in the state by the ALBC.

“So many kids in this age group already spend a great deal of time fishing anyway, especially around this central part of the state,” Touchet said. “I recently went to a high school tournament in Jonesville, which featured nine or 10 teams from as far away as Vidalia and Ferriday. So, you see, there are plenty of teams already formed and competing.

“The ALBC not only wants to help and nurture that growth, but also to give them a goal, a state high school championship,” Touchet said.

For information, call Greg Lewis at (318) 729-0713 or Touchet at (337) 258-7961.