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Trevor Hammond, fishing club Bass anglers can now enjoy the sport at school.

Last year was the first for the fishing club at Fluvanna County High School, said Mark Belew, a local competitive fisherman who coaches the team. Two students competed in tournaments during the 2015-2016 school year. School Resource Officer Tim Shiflett started the team as its sponsor.

Jerry Custer sponsors the club this year. He said eight students have shown an interest in competing in the first tournament Sept. 10 on the Potomac River at Aquia Creek.

Why a fishing club?

It’s become a trend, Belew said. “Believe it or not colleges offer fishing scholarships now,” he said.

A check of colleges with fishing clubs show 34 in Virginia and surrounding states.  That includes colleges like Radford and Virginia Tech. Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn., was the first to offer a scholarship in 2009.

Belew said he was the only one in his family who couldn’t get enough fishing. “It was all I wanted to do growing up,” he said. “It kept me out of trouble.”

Belew is an Albemarle County deputy in major crimes. He said fishing keeps his mind off the often gruesome things he sees. “The next cast is an opportunity for hope,” he said. “It’s a science of sorts. It’s a chess match against nature. Fish are fickle. What works today might not work tomorrow.”

One drawback is that bass fishing is expensive. The average bass boat is $50,000. Electronic equipment can easily cost $10,000, Belew said. There are added travel expenses and required fees.

That’s why Belew appreciates the local businesses sponsoring the club: the Dogwood Restaurant, Villa Nova’s Pizza and Hammond Insurance. He said they are still looking for sponsors.

They also need people with bass fishing boats and tackle club members can use, as well as people willing to coach.
“There’s nothing like getting out on the water with different anglers with different skills,” he said.

How you can help
The Fluvanna County High School Fishing Club is looking for sponsors and volunteers.

They need boats with boat captains for the first tournament of the 2016-17 season. The tournament is on the Potomac River on Sept. 10 out of Hope Springs Marina. Ramp fees are waived.

“The young anglers are confined to Aquia Creek and Potomac Creek,” said Coach Mark Belew. “Boat captains may coach and assist the anglers but cannot catch fish for the competitors. Please consider volunteering and helping these young men and women become the next generation of our sport.”

Lunch will be provided for volunteers. Contact Mark Belew at www.facebook.com/mark.belew.50.