The Mary Persons Bass Team continues to grow as it wraps up its 2023 campaign with 10 boats of 20 anglers.
MP coach and captain Mark McCoy said the team was split again this year between two competitive circuits, the GHSA Trail and the Bass Nation High School Trail. McCoy said both trails had events on the same days so that made it hard to have to split the team.
Also, new this year was the creation of a middle school team that has killed in its first year, ranking in the Top 5 in the state. The MCMS bass team won first place at Lake Seminole and second place at Clarks Hill Lake.
Two of the high school anglers won big fish prizes this year, Jac Connell with a 5.5-pound whopper at West Point Lake and Jude McCoy on Clarks Hill Lake.
Three of the 10 MP fishing boats and one of the middle school boats qualified this past weekend for the Bass Nation finals at Eufaula, Ala. in June. McCoy said almost every team at the GHSA qualifier at Lake Hartwell this past weekend caught fish. They just weren’t big enough to qualify for the GHSA tournament, although he’s still waiting for confirmation on that from the GHSA.
McCoy said the kids, many of whom grew up enjoying frequent catches on Monroe County ponds, are learning that lake fishing is a different, and more challenging, animal.
“Every lake changes every day you go out there,” said McCoy. “What you figure out on the pre-fish day may not work on tournament day.”
For instance this past Friday at Lake Hartwell, it was rainy and the MP teams were catching fish like crazy. But on Saturday the sun and wind arrived, and everyone struggled.
“That’s the learning curve they’re on,” said McCoy. “Even veteran anglers cannot figure it out. It boils down to time on the water. Knowing the lake and knowing where bait fish are.”
McCoy said lakes are also fished more. Their tournament this past weekend brought 220 boats to Lake Hartwell, and an adult tournament had another 100 boats on the water.
“It’s like fish know what’s going on so they go lockjaw,” said McCoy.
McCoy said sometimes you’ll fish a dock for hours without luck and then somebody will pull up and catch 3 bass.
McCoy said fishing can be humbling, but said the kids learn a lot about sportsmanship and patience, and how to work at something by changing your boat position, your lure, or your reel speed until you find success.