High School Fishing:A Different Breed of ProToday’s student-anglers (and coaches) see value in networking
Will Simmons planned to be fishing by lunchtime; maybe just a little after. A transplanted crappie fisherman turned bass nut, and now coach of the Obion County Central High School (OCCHS) fishing team, Simmons was en route to his first fishing photoshoot. Together with Cody Gregory, a stand-out member of the OCCHS team, Simmons was on his way to meet with photographers and marketing execs for St. Croix Rods, who chose nearby Reelfoot Lake for the job at hand.
Simmons and Gregory figured they’d knock out the shoot in a couple hours and be free to spend the evening casting for bass. How hard could it be?
“We were quickly surprised,” Simmons reflected, “on how much went into that shoot.” Plans for a relaxing day on the lake were immediately cancelled.
Neither Simmons nor Gregory were disappointed, however, and used the opportunity to learn everything they could about the business of fishing. “It was real eye-opener, and a great experience,” Gregory reflected. A former Tennessee State Champion, Gregory recently received a fishing scholarship to attend Bethel University, one of the nation’s premier fishing-supportive schools.
“I’m working toward a business degree, and I want to get a job in the fishing industry,” Gregory added. “If I can’t be a (tournament) pro, I may look into a rep position.” Gregory added that the St. Croix shoot “wasn’t as easy as it looks. A lot goes into these types of things behind the scenes. They sure require a lot of patience…”
“St. Croix has an incredible camera crew,” Simmons added. Agreeing to take part in the event was an easy move for the coach, as he wanted to learn more about ways to network with the legendary rod builder. “I wanted to talk about developing a relationship between St. Croix and our team. The Mojo line, for example, is really appealing for high school and college anglers. This week, I fished a bunch with the new Mojo Power Shake rod (MJS73MHF) and was blown away with the combination of finesse and power. I really look forward to using a Power Shake for fishing around the bushes of Kentucky Lake.”
For some time, St. Croix has realized the need for high-quality gear at all price points, to fit into any budget. Recently, the Bass X series (casting and spinning) joined the Mojo Bass line (casting and spinning) with tournament-grade gear priced for student athletes.
Cody Gregory – now also a top-5 finisher in the bass fishing National Championships – has long been a St. Croix fan. “I’ve used them since I started fishing,” he added. “St. Croix rods have always been top of the line, but the new models are in a class of their own. The Dock Sniper is instantly one of my favorites.” A true specialty rod, the Mojo Dock Sniper (MJC70HF) combines heavy-power and fast action in a seven-foot frame, making it ideal for tournament winning dock tactics using casting jigs and stout line.
In addition to being technical about his fishing, Gregory’s recent photoshoot experience illustrates his passion for other aspects of a fishing career: “I jumped at the opportunity,” he said, when it came to the St. Croix invite. Now armed with even more knowledge and experience in fishing, Gregory will continue to push hard, looking to again qualify for Nationals this April.
Simmons also sees the recent event as a means to learn more of the fishing business. “In the future, we’re going to try to be more appealing to colleges and aspire to work more closely with Bethel University. This photo shoot can only help those efforts.”
As student fishing expands, so does the commitment to the cause by manufacturers like St. Croix Rods, with support at all levels of the movement.