Last year Crestwood students were introduced to a new club thanks to the efforts of Educational Assistant Curtis Cronkwright. An avid fisherman, Cronkwright started a local youth extension of the Ontario Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society Nation, (Ontario BASS Nation) which is a grass-roots organization with 24 clubs across Ontario designed for everyone from beginners to seasoned tournament anglers. Through their youth program organization members are supporting a new generation of responsible sportsmen and women with mentoring, education and volunteer opportunities and hosting competitive bass fishing tournaments.
Each club performs an annual conservation project, such as a stream cleanup, habitat restoration, fish monitoring or a road cleanup project. Members don’t need a boat to join, as during tournaments participants are paired with partners to ensure everyone can participate. Junior members were paired in a boat with more experienced fishermen where they received one-on-one support and encouragement.
The concept of fishing competitively struck a chord with some local teens including sixteen year old Keston Frizzle of Millbrook who thought the club might help develop his fishing skills. The bulk of his experience to that point was fishing for trout in rivers and streams and at his family cottage on Barry’s Bay.
Before the tournaments could get started, the 15 youth members of the Kawartha High School Bass Masters club met once a month in a Peterborough restaurant to hear guest speakers, learn about tournament etiquette, catching and knot-tying techniques. During the monthly meetings, they also discovered kindred spirits who share a love of this often solitary sport.
Once the fishing season began, Keston participated in two small competitions with his club members in preparation for the championship event. Keston explains it’s the little things that make the difference in competition; having the right knots on each kind of line and making quick bait switches so your line is out of the water for the least amount of time. Having an experienced angler in the boat helps calm the nerves and focus on the target. The competitors use fish-finding technology, but they still have to attract the fish to their line.
In early September, the club competed in the Ontario BASS Nation High School and Junior Championship, taking both titles. Among the club competitors were five Crestwood students, and Ryan Guthrie was the top placing student, finishing fourth in the province.
While the season is over, Keston looks forward to continuing to hone his skills and build his friendships with local teens and adults who share his passion for the sport. You know a teenager is keen when he describes one of the highlights of the experience as feeling the cold air on his face at 7 am as he headed out on the water- and that occurred after a two hour drive to reach the boat launch!
Like many volunteers, Cronkwright is inspiring a new generation of anglers by helping them develop a deeper respect and understanding of the sport, whether they fish for fun or in competition. The young men may also come to embrace the club motto: “When you have a lot of things to do, get the fishing out of the way first.” KG