By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Did you know there is a growing high school “angle” to fishing?

It’s being developed as a sport to high schools across Minnesota, and it’s “catching” on.

When we think of high school sports, we think of direct competition played on fields and in gymnasiums — but that world is expanding. High school fishing clubs are seeing a surge in popularity across the state.

“This high school fishing league has been taking off in Minnesota,” fishing coach Kolt Ringer said. “It’s been going on down south for quite a few years now, in Texas and Kentucky and some other states.”

Charlie Wedus is a good example — an 8th grader in the Minnetonka district with a love for fishing.

“I love almost all the aspects of it,” he said. “I guess it’s really fun to be on the water and catch fish.”

He represents the avid angler, but the team has many levels.

“The kids that show up for the high school fishing team are the kids that talk to each other,” Ringer said. “There hasn’t been a mass marketing effort to recruit kids — they’re recruiting each other.”

So they head out starting in May and compete, but winning takes a back seat as a priority right now — it’s bigger than that.

“I guess the goal is to get more kids fishing,” Wedus said.

It’s working — more than 70 kids came out for the Minnetonka team. What they’ve tapped into is what we already know on several levels — kids love to compete, and they love to be with one another .

“They like to have fun, they like to be on teams. Fishing never had that before until recently, so this is great” Ringer said. “You’re always bragging with your fish picture, but when you get to walk up on stage, weigh five bass — or we do some point-base tournaments — and the kids get rewarded for how they do, it’s a huge piece of it.”

Along the way, they find a fraternity in the competition.

“A lot of people from the Brainerd fishing team — they kind of helped us start it up,” Wedus said.

While walleye is the focus in Minnesota this weekend, it’s bass that consumes high school competition.

“A lot of the pro fishermen are bass fishermen,” Wedus said.

So they head to lakes to scout before they fish, driven to grow the sport of fishing and thrilled to be on the water, hoping for a magic moment.

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