Bass masters: Local teams shine in first state bass fishing contest
The first-ever state high school bass fishing championships in Wisconsin had an extremely strong representation from our local area.
New Richmond was represented in the tournament by Grant Ehlenfeldt and Charlie L’Allier. Gavin Hessler and Tucker Nauss fished for St. Croix Central and Matthew Timmers and Noah Lindus fished for Baldwin-Woodville. All six are members of the Indianhead Junior Bassers, the youth division of the local Indianhead Bassers fishing club.
The New Richmond team qualified for the B.A.S.S. Federation national championships, which will be held on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee on July 16-19.
The state tournament was a two-day event. This was the first year the tournament was held.
Ehlenfeldt and L’Allier led after the opening day of the tournament, with 15.06 pounds for their eight fish. They were leading with 10 minutes remaining in the second day of the tournament. With time winding down, the Mississippi Coulee team of Brady McCoy and Jace Smith from the La Crosse area caught a 4-pound fish that put them into the lead. They finished with 27.94 pounds of fish. New Richmond’s team ended with 26.85 pounds of fish. The St. Croix Central team ended with a total of 25.45 pounds. The Baldwin-Woodville team finished in fourth with 24.95 pounds. That included the largest fish caught in the tournament, which weighed 4.94 pounds.
This wasn’t the first time Ehlenfeldt fished the Minocqua chain of lakes. He fished there two years ago in the Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation youth tournament. Ehlenfeldt said he and L’Allier did a great deal of preparation for the tournament, studying topographic maps to gain a better knowledge on which areas might hold more fish.
They will take a similar approach as they plan to fish in the national tournament. This will be a much larger challenge. Kentucky Lake is a large body of water that spreads over two states. It is also much deeper than most of the lakes they have fished in Wisconsin.
The New Richmond boys are raising funds to help pay for their trip to the national tournament. Anyone interested in sponsoring them can contact Ehlenfeldt at 715-441-9021.
The idea for a bass fishing team was an offshoot of the ice fishing team that started at New Richmond High School over the winter. Science teacher Jeff Albarado was the advisor of the ice fishing team. He credited Jesse Heinecke, the youth leader for the Indianhead Bassers, for proposing a bass fishing team for the high school. Albarado said any students interested in joining the ice fishing team or the bass fishing team can contact him at the high school.
The St. Croix Central team also stemmed off another outdoor program at its school. St. Croix Central began a trapshooting team during the 2013-14 school year. Ag instructor Bill Emery served as the advisor for the trap team. When that team was being formed, Hessler and Nauss asked if a bass fishing team could also be started. Emery said the idea tied in with classes he taught and thought it was an ideal fit.
Emery teaches several outdoor-themed classes including natural resources, advanced wildlife and freshwater aquatics. In the class final, students are given the topographic map of a lake. Their task is to find the most likely places where fish would be located, what depth they’d be found at, and what lures would work best to catch the fish.
“I don’t teach them to fish. I teach them what to look for to have more success,” Emery said.
The class is popular, with at least one section every year, and the class fills up every year. Some of the subjects taught during the class have been building your own fishing pole, taxidermy and making your own lures. This year, tech ed teacher Garret Wenzel taught the students about fly fishing. The students had the opportunity to go trout fishing, using waders to get the full effect of the experience.