In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it should be no surprise that one of the fastest growing high school sports takes place on the water and involves a net. Rosemount High School fielded its first fishing team last year. Head coach Jeremy Abbott, a seventh-grade science teacher at Rosemount Middle School, was eager to pair his lifelong passions for fishing and education.
“I thought about starting a team for a few years and got the push I needed in 2018 when a couple of parents contacted Rosemount High School looking to start a team,” Abbott said.
Last year’s inaugural roster included 10 skilled student anglers. It is the first co-curricular opportunity of its kind in District 196, but Rosemount is one of 10 teams that competes in the Greater South Conference of the Minnesota Junior B.A.S.S. league. Across the state, there are seven conferences and the number of schools adding teams continues to grow. Schools open their season with three conference tournaments in June and July. In these tournaments, two team-mates are paired with an adult who navigates the boat. The two-man teams fish for six hours and turn in their five biggest bass to be weighed. The bigger the bass, the more points awarded.
Results from the three tournaments are used to quality the top 10 two-person teams for the state tournament in August. Three Rosemount teams were among the 10 state qualifiers this year. Now in its second season, the roster has doubled to 20 and is quickly becoming a team to watch.
The Irish came out on top in the final conference tournament of the season July 27 on Washington and Stella lakes outside of Dassel, Rosemount earned the top team finish and three two-person teams had top-10 finishes, includ-ing winners Jordan Loranger and fellow senior Christian Prestegard, who took first place with 13.9 pounds of bass for an average of just under three pounds per fish.
“(It’s) fun to fish with other guys our age,” said Rosemount student Jack Morrison. “I love to bass fish and have always wanted to fish competition. It’s important to do what you love, and being involved doesn’t always have to mean playing football and hockey. Outdoorsmen can be athletes, too.”
The Minnesota State High School League doesn’t formally recognize fishing as a sport. Instead, it is designated a club. Abbott has high hopes for the future.
“I would love to get more kids interested, especially girls,” he said. “A lot of kids do not have athletic interests, or music interests. But outdoor activities are something they like to do. We live in a great state with a long history of fishing and hunting. And the more kids that we can get involved, the better for our state and our schools.”