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The Journey Begins

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

The first Shaun John Fishing High School Team of Adam and Max started the new TBC season facing challenging fishing conditions but persevering till the end.

To appreciate the determination of the youngsters competing at the TBC at Klerkskraal this past weekend one must know a little of the backstory...

As I worked on my Shaun John Fishing project sorting out the website, recording some initial content, planning future features, buying prizes and setting up the first team boat among other things one challenge remained, who was going to fish as the first High School team and represent the start of the most important element of everything I set out to do. Enter my mate Ross, an enthusiastic fisherman and accomplished sportsman and most fortunately for me very active in a top local schools fishing club. Having not shared with almost anyone what I had been slowly working on for about two years for fear of failure or never having the courage to actually take the leap from dream to reality Ross and I got chatting one evening about some the of our future dreams and both of us ended up discussing our fishing ambitions. During this chat I opened up about the website I had built and some of my plans to fish further in the USA and encourage more Americans to come and fish in SA and obviously the big dream to eventually introduce hundreds of young people to fishing, develop and support an organized High School fishing program in SA and more...

Ross was super supportive of the idea and told me that he may have the perfect students from his school fishing club ready to make up the first High School team.

A week later Ross told me he had spoken to two boys and their parents and they were super keen to compete. The boys he said were studious, polite and incredibly enthusiastic. I was now super excited as things were coming together however Covid continued to cause chaos and uncertainty and we didn't even know when the TBC would start again so all we could do is wait.

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In the interim I spent time working on the team boat, repainting it, instaling a livewell pump, doing some maintenance on the trailer and just generally getting the boat ready for when it could be used and good news arived in August, The Bass Challenge was back on and the first competition would be in September.

Tournament Prep and Comp Day

We urgently needed to get the team out on the water to test out the little boat and preferably out for a pre fish as they had never competed before and had no experience on a boat of any sort. We decided an afternoon on Emmarentia dam to test out the boat would be sufficent and so set out that weekend. Adam and Max enjoyed an afternoon on the water and while they struggled to get used to managing a hand control electric motor and fish they made good progress and even managed to catch some fish.

The following weekend I arranged with Ross to take the team for a pre fish at Klerkskraal dam and early Saturday we hit the water on what prooved to be a tough days fishing and an insight into the tough competition that would follow. We all managed some fish but fish of any decent size were almost impossible to find. Despite this we put a strategy in place and Adam and Max were ready for their first competition.

Weather predictions for comp day were terrible, a gale was predicted to blow all day and this did not setup well for two young inexperienced anglers with a 30lb thrust hand controlled motor so we just hoped the weather man was wrong.

Unfortunately the morning greeted us with the gale as predicted but in true fisherman style the boys were super pumped to just get out there and fish. The fishing was not easy and the team struggled with the combination of thick weed mats and persistant wind often requiring assistance just to get around but they pushed on and put some fish on the boat. It was great to see their enthusiasm and persistance and the never give up attitude that is apparent in all successful anglers. While they did not finish high in the rankings for the day they were rewarded with experience, quality time outdoors and some life skills in overcoming challenges. As I say all the time, "its about more than just fishing" and my hope is that through the joy and challenge of fishing these young men and many more like them will develop useful life skills to assist them in the overcoming the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities that they are sure to encounter as they grow up.

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