Written by Conor Harrison, Lone Star Outdoor News. Photos by Jared Penton and Dillon Harrell.
B.A.S.S. has announced the first Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team, and anglers from Sanger and New Caney are representing Texas on the national team.
The anglers, Jared Penton from Sanger, and Dillon Harrell from New Caney, were selected out of more than 200 nominees representing 33 states. Up to two anglers were chosen per state based on their competition success, leadership and community service.
Jared Penton is a senior at Sanger High School. He won the THSBA Fun ‘n Sun Open in January, 2014 and has several top-10 finishes to his credit. He helped start the Sanger High School Fishing Team two years ago and has served as its president for two years. He started bass fishing when he was 5 or 6 years old and living in Nebraska.
Penton was a force on the high school tour last year.
“Last year, we finished 24th on Lake Fork in our first event,” Penton said. “It was a pretty good finish because I had no expectations going in. Then we got second on Lake Palestine, won the tournament on Cedar Creek, finished fifth at Monticello and then zeroed at Tawakoni.
“That Tawakoni tournament was really tough — out of 60 teams, only four caught a fish.”
Penton said he thinks he is a well-rounded angler, although he likes to power fish in shallow water around structure.
“Throwing Texas-rigged soft plastics, flipping a jig or throwing a crankbait around riprap, grass and docks is what I like best,” he said.
Penton said he knew he was nominated for the first All-State Fishing Team, but had no idea he had been selected until his dad posted something on Facebook. He said he is weighing whether or not to attend college, or try his hand fishing professional tournaments after high school.
“College is pretty expensive and the travel costs to fish are pretty high,” he said. “I am definitely looking at fishing tournaments with Bass Champs, Texas Team Trail and a few others.
Harrell is a senior at New Caney High School, and began his tournament career when he was 9 years old.
“In 2006, I fished the junior Bassmaster tournaments and I was the state champion for my age group,” he said. “That was the beginning of my tournament career.”
But one tournament, in particular, really fanned the flames.
“I was fishing an American Rodsmith Tournament on Lake Conroe and I caught an 8.35-pound bass. I turned it in right at the end of the day and ended up winning big bass for the hour and a $1,00 check. My mom asked me how I felt on the way home and I said, ‘They paid me to fish.’ She knew right then there was no turning back.”
Harrell won the TBF High School tournament last summer and the SETX High School tournament last spring. He is the 2014 SETX High School Fishing Angler of the Year. Harrell is president of his school’s fishing team, and he helped add a disability ramp to the community mission entrance and has participated in two roadside cleanups, according to B.A.S.S.
He has plans to attend Sam Houston State University in the fall on an agro-business scholarship.
“I’m going to get an education and stay focused on that,” he said. “I will be finishing school, but I could see myself trying my hardest to become a pro angler after school. It’s an honor to be just nominated for this award, and I was floored when I was selected.
“It’s a huge honor, especially coming from an organization as well-respected as B.A.S.S.”
UPDATE: Both Texas anglers were also selected to the first-ever B.A.S.S. All-American team.