December 6, 2021

Heard County Bass Anglers capture GICAA State Championship

(Buckhead, GA) — The Heard County High School fishing duo comprised of Payton Caldwell and John Rhodes captured the GICAA State Bass Fishing Championship at Sugar Creek Marina on Lake Oconee last Saturday.

GICAA State Fishing Champions Payton Caldwell (L) and John Rhodes (Photo: HCHS)

The tandem hauled in five fish for a tournament winning total weight of 14 pounds, 9 ounces to edge the second place team of Caden Fleming and Malik Holder (13 pounds, 8 ounces) from Rock Springs Christian Academy.

Joel Chambers was the boat captain for the champion Brave Anglers.

As part of the top 10% from the GICAA Qualified Championship, Payton and John have advanced to the SAF High School Fishing National Championship to compete against the best of the best for scholarships, prizes and the 2019 National Champion titles.

Nationals is held in conjunction with the largest, stand-a-lone open championship event, the 2019 High School Fishing World Finals.

All SAF anglers are invited to compete in the World Finals where tens of thousands of scholarships and prizes will be awarded. Both events will run simultaneously June 18-22 in Florence, Ala., on Pickwick and Wilson Lakes.

Also competing at the State Championship event for the Heard High Bass Anglers was the team of Evan Walls and Spencer Ray with boat captain Josh Walls. Evan and Spencer finished in 25th place.

Both teams qualified for the state fishing tournament with strong finishes at a GICAA qualifier on Lake Lanier March 2.

Caldwell and Rhodes finished in 9th place after catching four fish at a combined weight of 9 pounds, 4 ounces while Walls and Ray notched a 12th place finish after weighing in the ‘big fish’ of the tournament — an awesome 6 pound, 3 ounce bass.

One of the fastest growing youth-related movements across the country are High School fishing clubs.

The Bass Federation, the nation’s oldest and largest organized grassroots fishing organization, is leading the way with the development of the Student Angler Federation (SAF).

The objective of the SAF is to relate subject matter and basic principles of education to how anglers use them out on the water every day.

Also, the SAF is aimed at getting students off the couch and back into the great outdoors by promoting the formation of fishing clubs and outdoor activities within the school.

A byproduct of SAF efforts is the creation of competitive fishing in club tournaments and events between neighboring schools.

The Heard High Bass Anglers are coached by Justin McCullough.

For more information about the Heard High fishing program visit Heard County High Bass Anglers on Facebook.

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