A student at Hayes High School was one of 47 high school anglers named to the 2021 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team.
Braden McNamara, a sophomore at Hayes, said he’s been fishing pretty much his entire life, but he didn’t start competing until he learned about youth and high school tournaments.
“My dad put a rod in my hand two hours after I was born,” McNamara joked. “Through online, I learned about high school fishing, so I wanted to do that. I didn’t realize how big it was until I got into it.”
McNamara said he’s participated in a number of tournaments since he started competing, and they involve more work than people expect.
“Most people don’t understand it, but there’s about a week of prep before,” he said. “You have to prepare and learn the lakes you are going to. On the tournament day, you’ve got to rig everything up. I usually have 10 to 25 rods (with different types of bait) on the deck on the day of the tournament. Even after the tournament, there’s all kinds of talking and promoting yourself to sponsors. There’s people from all over the world who come to the United States to do this.”
Bassmaster reports that students selected for the All-State Fishing Team were selected based on their success in bass tournament competition, academic achievement, and leadership in conservation and community service.
McNamara said he found out about making the team when he came across a post from Bassmaster while he was scrolling Facebook.
“I was scrolling through and saw my name,” McNamara said. “I sent it it to my dad and mom, and they were excited.”
McNamara said getting the nomination is “exciting,” but he still has a lot to learn.
“I’m a humble person. I don’t want to act like I’m the best,” McNamara said. “I don’t want all the attention. I know I’m not the greatest out there, I just want to continue to learn so I can be better and better.”
Of the 47 students selected for the all-state team, 12 will be chosen for the Bassmaster All-American Fishing Team. McNamara said he’d be excited if he was selected, but he isn’t stressing out about it.
“I don’t know if I’m nervous,” he said. “I wouldn’t be super disappointed if I don’t make it because there are some really good high school fisherman out there that are also on the all-state team. I’m excited to hopefully be selected and see where that can take me, and how I can grow from that. (I won’t) let it distract me and be nervous about it.”
Bassmaster said the 12 finalists will compete in a one-day Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors. The tournament will be held during the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake, scheduled to take place May 6-9 in Gadsden, Alabama.