NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Twelve anglers were out on the waters in Nacogdoches County on Saturday for the Bassmaster High School All-American fishing tournament.
Out of more than 380 high school students who were nominated, the select few had the opportunity of once in a lifetime opportunity to pick the minds of pro-anglers.
"I've been fishing since I was three or four and grew up on (Lake Sam) Rayburn around here and been fishing ever since. Just love it," said Trace O'Dell from Jasper County.
Being an 18-year-old senior at Buna High School, O'Dell has a deep passion for fishing.
"It's just amazing. These are the some of the best anglers that travel across the world fishing and they are the best of the best," O'Dell said. Being in the boat with them and simply talk fishing and be able to fish is going to be a day full of learning for me."
Learning lessons started from the second the pro and high school anglers left the hotel. During the 45-minute ride to Lake Naconiche from Lufkin, the 12 students bonded with world's most experienced anglers.
The idea of the tournament is designed to reward young athletes for their performance in tournaments, leadership in their communities and involvement in conservation efforts.
"These guys went through rigorous qualifications to get here. But it wasn't only based on their fishing abilities. It was also based on their academics, and how good of people they are," said Gary Klein, an elite series pro-angler.
Klein has been fishing competitively since the age of 15. He said that's the only occupation he's held and loves every second of it.
Klein is paired up with 18-year-old Jared Goebel from Lumberton, a town north of Beaumont.
"I hope to learn a lot of tips and tricks from the pro. And new things I don't know about and what it's like to be a pro."
As the dream come true for O'Dell, he hopes to gain a lot of information as he aims to be a pro-angler one day.
"They (pro-anglers) travel across the world coming to new lake that they don't really know about, so they have to hit the ground running and just go fish with the what they feel comfortable doing," O'Dell said.
The high school All-American tournament is part of the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest which benefits Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
This is the third year for the All-American competition.