ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - Nearly 200 high school anglers cast their reels first ever Sam Rayburn National High School Open Fishing Tournament.
Students from across the country tossed their line into Lake Sam Rayburn, the #2 ranked, best bass lakes of 2013 by Bass Master.
At first light, Sunday morning, 85 high school fishing teams motored into Lake Sam Rayburn hoping to catch big bass.
Tournament organizer, Terry Simpson with Jackson Hill Marina, says the rules are simple.
"You have two high school anglers and a boat coach. The boat coach can offer suggestions, can teach them but he can't pick up a rod or catch a fish," said Simpson.
And the goal for each team…
"We put 5 fish in the boat and that's what every tournament angler's first priority is, get 5 in the boat," said Kyle Dragulksi, 18, of the Dallas-area.
Dragulski and his teammate Austin Dupree, 15, of the Dallas-area, boated 12 pounds of bass and placed 6th overall .
"We caught our fish way back up in a creek," said Dupree. "Real, real dirty water. It's a big like there's a fish in it you just got to find them. They're real scattered."
Scott Burns, of Lufkin, has been fishing Rayburn all his life and served as Dupree and Dragulski's boat captain.
"They pretty much culled out all of their small fish and go on some really good fish pretty quick and they had a really good day," said Burns. "They worked really hard and it was real hot. It's been a tough bite here on Rayburn lately but I'm real proud of them and I'm proud to be their boat captain."
Clay Nash and Wyatt Frankins, the 2012 Student Anglers Texas High School State Champions from Corrigan-Camden High School, wished they could have fished longer.
"We got out there early. Fished real hard," said Nash. "Caught a bunch of short fish we weren't able to bring in and finally caught one about 1:00 PM, we barely made it but we got to bring one in."
And all these high school fishermen are encouraging youth to get out on the water.
"When out fishing tournaments and all that especially as a young kid, you know never get discouraged whenever you're out there fishing," said Dragulski. "You know when you're not doing so hot, that's why it's called fishing and not catching and that's why there's plenty of more opportunities out there to go hit the water."
Awards were handed out for first through third place plus the big bass award for men and women.
Organizers say they are already planning next year's tournament and hoping for an even bigger turnout.