Young anglers learn how to push through rough conditions

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The competition started as the sun crested the horizon for the 45 anglers that took part in a fishing tournament last weekend. Athletes from the PRC Bass Assassins, Poplarville Hooks, and Picayune Riptide all competed in a tournament that not only had a prize pool, but also implications on who would get to fish in the Classic Tournament next month.

Guy Stegall, founder of the Bass Assassins and boat captain, said the conditions weren’t necessarily favorable for the young anglers.

“It was a little tougher because the river turned around and started rising and that hurt our fishing,” Stegall said.

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However, the rain then started to pick up, which was a refreshing departure from the hot sun the anglers had endured to begin with.

The tournament took place on the Pearl River, and because of that Stegall said all of the anglers were pretty familiar with the territory.

However, the day before the tournament took place Stegall went out on the water by himself to do some scouting.

“I’ll find out what they’re biting and where they’re at because otherwise you can waste a lot of time in different areas,” Stegall said.

His work turned out to be key as he was able to determine the lures that worked best in certain areas.

Stegall then passed this information to his anglers, and in the end they won the tournament. The fishermen had only caught four fish all day.

However, with just 30 minutes before the deadline to end fishing the athletes caught a 2.65 pound fish, a pleasant surprise for both Stegall and his fishermen.

“With that fish they ended up winning the tournament,” Stegall said.

However, winning in this instance came second to the lessons Stegall wanted to teach his anglers.

“I basically taught them boat control this past week, and taught them about figure eight casting with spinner bait,” Stegall said.

The education spanned beyond the water as well with Stegall and the other captains involved hoping to make a positive impact on the young fishermen’s lives.

“As captains, we’re trying to teach them how to be a man, how to be a woman,” Stegall said. “That’s the main thing is we’re teaching life lessons, and that to me is the most important thing.”

The captains serve as mentors both on and off the water for the anglers, and Stegall said that if people just listen to the students they’ll open up.

“These kids go through a lot of things, we think that stuff doesn’t happen until they’re a grown up, but that’s not how it works these days,” Stegall said.

“It was a great day, and we had great conversations.”

The athletes are also using their lessons as means to pay for higher education. Multiple athletes, including Dylan Herrington and Tanner Gregory, will be attending Pearl River Community College on fishing scholarships.

“They’ll get to travel around and compete against division one schools,” Stegall said.

There was also a pay day for the anglers who did well during the tournament.

The competition lasted until 2 p.m., and Stegall’s anglers Ethan Voss and Tanner Gregory were able to take home $300 in prize money as a pair.