Bass fishing team

Caledonia juniors Jeremiah Jacobson, left, and Ely Ranzenberger are members of Caledonia High School’s Bass Fishing Team. Last weekend, they competed in a large high school fishing tournament in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 

By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

Two locally-hosted high school bass fishing tournaments were held in tandem from June 24-27, drawing hundreds of teams from 39 states to the area.  And one of those teams was the recently-formed Caledonia Warriors Fishing squad.

“There was 320 teams,” Caledonia team captain Kevin Jacobson reported. “Our team was first registered last year, and the Caledonia fishing team has two active members -  Ely Ranzenberger and Jeremiah Jacobson.” Both youngsters will be 11th graders this fall.   

A local team from Riceville, Iowa (Lawson Losee and Kooper Tweite) won the Student Angler Fedderation (SAF) National Championship on the third day of fishing. Then 31 qualifying teams competed in Saturday’s round for the top spot in the 11th annual SAF High School Fishing World Finals. A pair of anglers from South Carolina (Tucker Veronee and Landon Gramling) won the second event.

Incentives to compete were many, including over $3.2 million in scholarships and other prizes awarded during the two events.

“In the consolation round we were 101st out of 230 teams,” Jacobson stated.” We didn’t make the final cut... but it was a great experience for the kids. There was 50 positions within one pound for placement, so it was a pretty tight weigh-in. The kids had a blast. They learned a lot about fishing, and bass fishing that week.

“We use my boat,” the captain stated. “The boat captain has to drive the boat from position to position and the kids do the fishing. They choose where we go, and what they’re fishing with. In the TBF (The Bass Federation), they like to leave it up to the kids to build the game plan for the day, and the boat captain pretty much just drives the boat, and makes sure everyone stays safe. The kids do all the fishing.

The Caledonia team is registered to compete in the Minnesota State Championship in Minnetonka later this year, and an additional Wisconsin tournament based out of La Crosse, too.

“An open tournament means anybody from any state can fish it and qualify for next year’s championship, like they had in La Crosse this year,” Jacobson explained. “We go out on Wednesday night, and we practice fish every week... As soon as we could get out on the water this year, we were practicing.

“I would love more than anything to see our team grow...  We would also love to see the school get funding through the state, actually. Buy a boat or two boats, and have the team get bigger. If there’s parents out there that have a boat that want to see their kids fish in fishing tournaments, call the school and let them know. They can bass fish out of any boat. 

“There’s schools out there that have six or seven teams in these tournaments... I think it’s a great thing for the kids.   

“It just happened that my hobby is also my youngest son’s hobby, so we have the bass boat. We had some pretty good sponsorship last year.” 

The list of sponsors included Caledonia Founder’s Days, Winona Controls in Caledonia, Wiebke Fur in Eitzen, Dahl Automotive in La Crosse, and Snap On Tools dealer Todd Warthan, the captain added. “This year, with the COVID thing going on, we just had the kids wear the same jerseys and we didn’t even ask the sponsors for more money,” he noted.

“We’re looking for any kids with any parents with any boats to join the club. We want more kids to join. That’s really the goal, to try to make more opportunities... I’m sure we could have 10-12 kids doing this. It’s about boat availability and boat captain availability.

“I like seeing the kids out doing something constructive. It’s a great sport, and they have the opportunity to advance from high school to semi-pro to professional anglers.”

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