Friday, July 31, 2015

Fishing Is a Lifetime Sport, Young Angler Says

Fishing is a sport that can fill a lifetime. School-age football, baseball and some other sports may have to be given up as age advances but fishing lasts a lifetime.

That's what Blayke Haggard knows, and why he has been fishing nearly all his 17 years, and said he will fish his whole life.

Haggard, 17, of Gans and a friend, Justin Alzate, 18, (Alzate, left, and Haggard, right, above) fish as a team in youth bass fishing tournaments. They most recently competed in the High School State Championship on the Arkansas River at Muskogee. Haggard said they finished 11th and the fishing wasn't very good.  "The changing river conditions had a lot to do with it," Haggard said about the poor fishing. "And the heat."

From July 8 through 11, the two young fishermen competed in the High School Bass Fishing World Championship, sanctioned by The Bass Federation and affiliated with the Student Angler Federation. They didn't finish at the top, but the experience was worth the trip. This was the third year the teenage team competed in the world championship. Last year, Brent Haggard, Blayke's father reported, the pair won the Multi-species Division at the world championship. The championship was held at Lake Pickwick in Alabama, close to the Haggard grandparents. Grandfather Haggard is who made a fisherman of son Brent, who was followed by his son Blayke. Fishing is a family sport, supported by the boys parents and grandparents, Brent  pointed out.

Tournament fishing is also supported by sponsors, Brent said. Blayke's sponsors include Sallisaw Lumber, Merrill Self Storage, Frankie Sullivan, Woodward Construction, Diamond Smiles Dental Care, Z-Launch, Williamson General Contractors, Hawg Hunter Custom Baits, Berkley Baits and "the moms and the dads and the grandpas and grandmas," Brent added.

Blayke won't say what bait he uses. The rules don't allow live bait, so fishing is done with artificial lures, he explained. This biggest bass he's caught in competition, so far, was four pounds, Blayke said. But his biggest catch was from a pond, where he pulled in a six and a half pound bass. Unfortunately that wasn't  a competition.

The Haggards explained that the youth fishing tournament competitors fish from a boat piloted by an adult, for safety, and they may get advice from their boat captain, but the preparation and fishing is all done by the youths.

Blayke said his favorite place to fish is Grand Lake at Grove, because, "That's where the big fish are." Big fish get Blayke's heart pumping. He explained, "I'm an adrenalin junky. When I'm playing football or baseball (for Sallisaw High School where he will be a senior), or when I'm pulling in a big fish, my heart is pumping so fast. Fishing is another sport I love to do."

Blayke said he fishes "every chance I get. Every opportunity I get, I'm on the water."

Brent said he hopes to see more young people in the county compete in bass fishing and similar tournaments. He said it is a growing sport, and many colleges now have fishing teams. Sequoyah County has three youth fishing teams, he reported.

But, Brent added, "At the end of the day, it's not about the money or trophies, it's about the looks on the boys' faces when they get up on that stage." The stage is where the awards are presented at the end of the tournament.

That success has led Blayke Haggard to a lifetime decision.

"I will fish forever," he said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit

   Green Leaf Properties

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.