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Grants provide for high school fishing clubs

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Space Coast Junior/Senior High School in Cocoa is among five Florida schools that have received privately sponsored grants for organizing fishing clubs for students.

It’s part of a program supported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to get more high schoolers interested in sportfishing.

The FWC has partnered with the Fishing League Worldwide Foundation and the Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation in offering $500 grants from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation for forming the clubs, particularly in schools with diverse student populations.

Most of the clubs accent freshwater bass fishing and form teams with the goal of competing in state and national high school tournaments.

Amber Nabors, an official with the FWC, said the grants help support club-sponsored tournaments and the purchase of team jerseys and insurance.

“The program not only benefits the students, but program participants and their families receive education on conservation programs, aquatic and marine biology and boating and angler safety,” Nabors said.

The clubs, which are open to boys and girls, also receive assistance in completing conservation projects.

The Space Coast Anglers at Space Coast Junior/Senior High hold regular meetings and the members compete for an Angler of the Month award. They take part in community projects that have included neighborhood cleanups and manning booths at sporting shows.

Nabors pointed out that club members don’t have to come from a single school.

“Students from several schools may come together to form a team or club and fishing is one of the few sports where both male and female students can compete as teams at the same level,” Nabors said.

College scholarships are even available for bass fishing. Currently nine colleges in Florida have teams affiliated with the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. Among them are the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida and Florida State University. The UF team is included on a list of the top 25 fishing colleges.

Ample grant funding is available so groups are encouraged to apply. Applications are available at www.highschoolfishing.org. Click on Join Now.

For more detail contact Nabors at Amber.Nabors@myfwc.com.

A first for BASS

For more than 30 years the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) has made few changes in the format of its tournaments. But that will change on July 19-22 when the first Bassmaster Classic Bracket Tournament is held on New York’s Niagara River.

The top eight finishers in the recent Elite Series at Cayuga Lake headed by winner Kevin VanDam from Kalamazoo, Michigan, will compete in a head-to-head, angler vs. angler format.

There’s no entry fee and $50,000 will be paid out, with $10,000 and a spot in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic going to the winner.

The pros will be credited with the weights of their five heaviest bass in each round but in place of a weigh-in, all fish will be weighed, recorded and released by onboard officials where they are caught.

Each angler will fish from a boat and he can run to his chosen location prior to the start. Everyone will fish the same amount of time during rotating morning and afternoon sessions.

In the two-day quarter final round VanDam, the No. 1 seed, will go up against No. 8 seed Drew Benton of Panama City; No. 2 Jordan Lee of Grant, Alabama, vs. No. 7 Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Arizona; No. 3 Brett Hite of Phoenix vs. No. 6 Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas; and No. 4 Jacob Powroznik of Port Haywood, Virginia vs. No. 5 Koby Kreiger of Bokeelia, near Fort Myers.

The semifinal round on July 21 will pit the match one winner vs. the match two winner, and match three winner against match four winner. The weights will start at zero and all with fish six hours starting at 8:30 a.m.

Those winners then go into the July 22 championship round, again with weights starting at zero, and the six hours starting at 8:30 a.m.

Bassmaster LIVE will broadcast daily with a camera in each boat. Fans can watch on Bassmaster.com on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and on WatchESPN and ESPN app on Wednesday.

“For the fans it’s really going to bring a new look to the sport,” VanDam said. “I know the coverage is going to be better. When you have a live camera on all the competitors the whole time that makes it a lot of fun.

“You’re not competing against the fish here. You know you’ve got to beat this other guy or you go home. It’s a unique format, and I’m looking forward to it.”

New reef near Pompano

A 324-foot tanker ship from New York City is scheduled to become an artificial reef on July 23 for divers in 120 feet of water 1.5 miles offshore Pompano Beach in South Florida.

Named the Lady Luck, organizers say the ship will be the world’s only underwater faux diving casino, complete with interactive art exhibits.

It will be the centerpiece of Shipwreck Park, an underwater cultural arts park with 16 other existing wrecks with underwater art exhibits. Displays will include a swim-through cascade of large dice, a card-slinging octopus and hustling table sharks as part of the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park sponsorship.

On the day of the sinking, the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa will host a Ship Sinking Barbecue Fundraiser. Price is $75 a person.

Contact Bill Sargent at sargentwb@gmail.com.

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