Kentucky To Add Bass Fishing to High School Sports

Following in the footsteps of Illinois, Kentucky becomes the second state to make bass fishing a title sport.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Move over flag football. This year's craziest addition to high school sports might be just that; crazy. Welcome in the newest member of the varsity club: bass fishing.

Following in the steps of the Illinois High School Association (ISHA), Kentucky will become just the second state to sponsor a high school bass fishing state championship.

Starting next April, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) will add bass fishing to a prestigious set of sports-activities that includes bowling and competitive cheer.

The KHSAA initially made the announcement in February and is hoping that with the addition of bass fishing, more students that would normally not participate in school sports will be encouraged to join.

“We kind of do this so our kids can have fun,” Covington Catholic High School fishing club moderator Bill Snyder said. “And what we seem to attract here are the boys (who) don’t play football or don’t play baseball. Those are the kind of kids that we usually attract to this because they want to participate in something and they have a lot of fun at it.”

The KHSAA decided to add bass fishing in direct response to the success that Illinois has had since they started doing it four years ago.

“Member school participation in Illinois has grown from 199 schools to 232 over the past four years, IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said.

In the hopes of duplicating their success, the KHSAA brought in a former assistant executive director of the IHSA, Dave Gannaway. Gannaway helped Illinois get its bass fishing state championship up and running and has high hopes for Kentucky.

”We have outdoor education that is being taught at its finest right here,” Gannaway said.

“It’s more than just going out in a boat and throwing a lure in the water. It’s trying to teach the kids the sciences about fishing. There’s a lot of science involved in fishing, whether people believe it or not. Water temperature and clarity and dealing with all of that relative to color, where the oxygen is in the water at different times.”

While the addition of the sport at the high school level is encouraging to most, there are still a number of hurdles that the state has to figure out. The biggest concern for school administrators is liability, followed by questions regarding equipment and what the schools will provide, as opposed to what the students will. From boats, reels, line and lures, and artificial bait, there is a number of items student-anglers will need to have in order to participate.

Also, In addition to having a valid Kentucky fishing license, each participant will be required to join Student Angler Federation (SAF), an arm of The Bass Federation that organizes numerous youth fishing tournaments around the country.

Membership in the SAF costs $25 and includes $1 million of liability coverage for the anglers, their club and volunteers. The organization also offers a fundraising option — selling polarized sunglasses — to help clubs pay for expenses like gas and equipment.

Like any other new addition though, all expect the details to be worked out with time and a little bit of patience; two things that are, ironically, the most essential parts of fishing.

Photo Credit: AP

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on