Hayden Peacock has spent most of his young life on the water fishing. It was something he and his dad, Jessie, enjoyed doing together. Now it’s a sport...
BAY MINETTE, Ala. — Hayden Peacock has spent most of his young life on the water fishing. It was something he and his dad, Jessie, enjoyed doing together. Now it’s a sport that he can share with his classmates at Baldwin County High School.
The school formed a fishing team two years ago and Hayden was eager to join. “I have dreamed of a fishing team at BCHS and when the opportunity came my way I didn’t hesitate to be the first one on the sign-up sheet,” he said.
Through relatively new to Baldwin County, Fishing Teams can be found at numerous high schools across the state and in most colleges. It came to BCHS thanks to a father who wanted to help his son pursue the sport.
John Black first learned about the benefits that a high school fishing team while helping his niece on her team at a Mobile school. With a son in middle school, Black said he decided to approach BCHS Principal Craig Smith about helping to form a team here.
Smith connected him with BCHS teacher David Garrett, who signed on as the team sponsor. Black serves as the team coach, top fundraiser and team motivator. As soon as they got the go-ahead, Black and the team members hit the ground running to find sponsors to fund jerseys, hotel stays for tournaments and tournament fees.
A fishing team consists of two student fishermen and an adult boat captain. In its first year, BCHS had just three teams and has now grown to included 14 members divided into seven 2-man teams.
Team members include Austin Hadley, Hunter Black, Hayden Peacock, Chandler Peacock, Garrett McMillan, Charlie Gantt, T.J. Bracken, Bryce Epperson, Brenton Godwin, Bryant Hicks, Cagan Crysell, Jacob Cox, Nathan Rider and Curtis Pritchett.
“We are now starting our second year, after learning the ins and outs from the previous year, we are working hard to build the best fishing team that will make BCHS proud,” Black said. “Our goals for this year are to help our senior team members earn scholarships to further their education and to help other members to become better fishermen so they can earn scholarships through the BCHS fishing team.”
As part of the Wire Grass Student Anglers Trail, sanctioned by Bass Nation, Black said the team will be competing in the largest-ever high school fishing tournament in the state. The Trail will include a Sept. 23 tournament at Live Oak Landing in north Baldwin County, as well as an Oct. 21 tourney at Lake Jordan in Wetumpka and a Nov. 18 competition at Lake Eufala.
Black is hoping the local tournament will draw out fishing fans and BCHS supporters. “We want to have as much support as possible from the community, to show we can support tournaments here,” Black said of the Sept. 23 competition.
The team will also be fishing in the Alabama Bass Nation high school tournament trail and those dates include: Oct. 28 at Lake Tuscaloosa, Feb. 3 at Lake Martin in Alexander City, March 17 at Lay Lake in Calera; and April 14 at Lake Eufala. The team hopes to advance to the state tournament at Lake Neely Henry in Gadsden.
Peacock said he’s thankful to be part of the BCHS Fishing Team and hopes that others can pursue this opportunity too. Currently only three high schools in Baldwin County have fishing teams: BCHS, Robertsdale and Fairhope.
“I do appreciate everyone who has had a part in making a team at BCHS, especially our sponsors who have contributed to establishing the team,” Peacock said. “Other schools should do the same, in my opinion, because there are so many young anglers who do not get the same opportunity that we do here at BCHS.”
For those who are considering it, Peacock cautions that it’s a lot of early mornings, long days and hard work. “Well the team isn’t just a group of guys with some boats that go out and compete against each other, there is more to it than that. Us anglers take pride in what we do,” he said.
Typically, he said, the anglers travel great distances to compete and then must wake up as early as 2 a.m. to get register for the tournament, launch boats and wait for safe light. Tournament length can vary depending on flights and weigh-in times, but anglers could spend up to 12 hours on the water.
“Once we are out on the water we try different strategies, techniques and lures to catch a five-bass minimum. Once your time is up you are back at the ramp and you weigh your fish in,” Peacock said.
Though the sport consumes the day, Peacock would not have it any other way. “What I really like best about the team is that it’s a good time to get together with other anglers,” he said, and getting to “fish different lake and waterways, which is a great opportunity for training and experience.”
Peacock is serious about the sport and wants others to get hooked on it too. “I think my job as an angler is to interest others in the sport of bass fishing,” he said. “So, I encourage anglers across the states to get out there and get fishin’.”