The Citrus High School Castaways reeled in a lot of bass during their first tournament on Saturday,
March 11, on the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes.
This recently formed team it is CHS’s first known fishing club and during the first tournament, nine members on seven boats caught 15 bass — with the largest bass weighing in at 4.31 pounds, caught by the club’s vice president, Charles Spivey.
The team is a big hit at the high school with 16 club members quickly joining and more students coming to the head coach, Dennis Yamrose, throughout the school day to see when they can sign up.
CHS juniors Chris Rogers and Charles Spivey love fishing so much they decided their school should have a team that defines pure freshwater fishing to utilize what is in Citrus County waters.
“We got a $500 grant from the Fishing League Worldwide Foundation (FLW) to get it started,” Rogers said.
Bass fishing is a competitive and trendy sport sweeping through colleges and now high schools after the 2009 launch of the FLW College Fishing. FLW and The Bass Federation (TBF) joined in 2011 to start the first national High School Fishing program — offering a high school bass fishing state championship in every state in the U.S. and the province of Ontario in Canada.
With the help from Yamrose, the kids saw an opportunity and ran with it. They quickly created a mission statement, started talking to friends — and through word of mouth, they collected 16 applications.
“The club started, then we found a volunteer sponsor who happens to be a bass professional fisherman, Steve Crowley, to serve as a volunteer coach and Sam Arnold as the assistant coach,” Yamrose said. “Mr. Crowley was able to get four sponsors, with our primary sponsor right now being Apopka Marine. For our first tournament, they provided communications and shirts for the kids to wear.”
Yamrose says he could not believe the support given by the local community — while noting the bass fishing industry is larger than it seems.
“Apopka Marine contacted people who own boats, so we had seven boats with boat captains to take our kids on the water and they are planning to get us a trailer to carry the equipment,” Yamrose said.
For all the remaining tournaments, The Cove Pub & Grub Restaurant offered their property to set up a weigh station and banners, just like a professional fishing tournament.
While on the water, students only catch and release, while always striving to leave a cleaner waterway once they depart.
“We file the tournament report through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and the kids were able to keep all the fish alive and release them at the end,” Yamrose said. “As of right now, we are trying to build our team, have tournaments among the group and maybe next year we will look further.”
Currently, Highway 44 Tackle, Big Dog Baits, Apopka Marine and Cove Pub & Grub Restaurant are the club’s main sponsors. If interested in sponsorship, contact Dennis Yamrose at 352-726-2241.