HORSESHOE BAY — If it hadn’t already committed to conducting the 2015 High School Fishing State Championship on Lake LBJ, the Student Angler Federation of the Texas Bass Federation would do so after this past weekend.
That’s because the 2014 tournament’s winning team of Joe Beebee and Will Brady, both freshmen at The Woodlands College Park, had a five-fish weight of 32 pounds, which set a national high school all-time weight record. Beebee and Brady each received $2,500 scholarships.
“I was absolutely surprised,” said Lorna Ellis, parent sponsor of the high school fishing club in Marble Falls. “How cool is that? They have three more years in the program.”
Ellis also took pride in something else. Beebee’s and Brady’s parent sponsor, Neil Beebee, called Ellis a few months ago to ask her how to start a high school fishing club. She said Beebee was still trying to find sponsors to help with travel, equipment and other things a club needs.
“This will help him spread the word,” she said. “I was very proud of them. Neil is doing this for the right reasons. It adds confidence to the kids. It’s not just seniors who can do this.”
The second-place team of Tristin Riddle and Sterlyn Wood of Angelos Anglers caught a weight total of 23 pounds, and each received scholarships of $1,250 each.
As for the local anglers, the team of Austin Ellis of Faith Academy and Ben Stripling of Marble Falls High School finished fifth with a weight total of 18 pounds and 11 ounces. The team, which drew a starting high number and was among the last to get on the water, needed every minute to catch a big fish. Ellis pulled in one weighing 9 pounds with about 10 minutes left before they had to exit the water. When they nabbed the fish, Ellis and Stripling threw up their arms in celebration while they were still in the boat.
“That was a last resort spot,” Ellis said. “I’m known for finishing like that.”
When he heard the amount of weight Beebee and Brady sacked, Ellis’ jaw dropped in disbelief. He caught up with the duo to congratulate them.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “They were humble.”
The top eight teams, including Ellis and Stripling, advanced to a U.S. regional tournament, which will be conducted in October though site and dates have not been officially announced.
The Highland Lakes event drew a total of 84 teams, 16 more than in 2013.
Lorna Ellis said the reason more people competed was because of how organized the event was 12 months earlier. So she was thrilled the state tournament will be back for a third year.
“I think that was our vision,” she said. “We knew in our backyard we had one of the best fishing lakes. Our dream was to have it here and host the championship. I see (its return in 2015) as a huge win.”
RESULTS: (fishing club at Marble Falls High School) — 5, Austin Ellis and Ben Stripling, 18 pounds and 11 ounces; 21, Jarrett Robertson and Chase Maddox, 12 pounds and 2 ounces; 28, Connor White and Christian Hunick, 10 pounds and 7 ounces; 35, Colby Orton and Kameron Wright, 8 pounds and 15 ounces; 40, Chris Hooten and Dustan Oustad, 6 pounds and 12 ounces; 42, Lyle Schmidt and Jake Meadows, 6 pounds and 5 ounces; 43, Chris Mata and Isaac Salas, 5 pounds and 11 ounces; 49, Jarrett Thornley and Aaron Cook, 4 pounds and 9 ounces; 52, Austin Pegues and Cody Machen, 4 pounds and 2 ounces; 54, Wyatt Deans and Zachary Spruill, 3 pounds and 14 ounces; 56, Jordan Childress and Hunter Delz, 2 pounds and 14 ounces; 62, Jack Degolier and Jack Sopel, 2 pounds