A new area high school fishing team will compete in the Minnesota State Junior BASS Tournament this weekend in Grand Rapids as the young anglers exceeded expectations in the programs inaugural year.

This summer was the first year for eleven area students who make up the Lake Crystal Area Bass Bashers, members of the Minnesota Junior BASS Nation along with 71 other high school teams across the state.

In a sport that is gaining popularity around the United States, Team Coach Breanna Ludeman and her son Sander created the team after exploring the possibility.

“He did some research and so did I and we found out that at 15-year old, you can’t fish on an adult league. I did a little bit more research and found out that this was something optional for high school students and it was one of the fastest growing sports next to trapshooting.”

The team is made of six students from Lake Crystal, four from Mankato West and one from St. Clair. The team competes in the Greater Southern BASS Conference, which is also made up of teams from Worthington, Rosemont and Plainsview.

As a lifelong fisher, Ludeman says it’s a great opportunity for students that might not be into the athletic component of other High School sports.

“So, a team consists of two student anglers. At no time are they able to run the engine, so you have to have an adult that can do the engine driving. They fish for what we call a bag. Each tournament has a little bit different rules, but ours is your top five fish. So, the goal is to catch five of your biggest fish, bring it in after six hours and then weigh them. Whoever gets the highest weight is declared the winner of the tournament.”

This season the Lake Crystal Area Bass Bashers finished as high as 4th place at Lake Washington on June 15 and registered a 2nd place finish at Lake Tetonka on July 27th. During the Conference Championship on August 3rd in Painsville, the team came in with their highest finish of the season on Lake Koronis.

“They did it. They took 1st by .03-ounces over our also 2nd place team. Then we took 6th, 8th and 13th as well.” said Ludeman. “The boys, some of the things that they find so much fun is that they work together as a team. I mean, they love being together and they’re very cohesive and always cheering on, even though they’re kind of competing against each other.”

Three teams on the Bass Bashers qualified for this weekends catch and release Minnesota State Junior Bass Tournament. One hundred teams will be competing in the two-day competition on Lake Pokegama.

TEAM MEMBERS: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Captin Andrew Leland, Spenser Hodgkins, Camden Ludeman, Parker Schuch, Caydin Kelly, Mason Theissen, Noah Langejoen, Captin Jason Anderson, Roen Anderson, Sander Ludeman, Captin Mark Schutz, Coach Breanna Ludeman, Coach Andy Theissen (Not pictured) Nik Beinke, Hank Beinke, Ethan Case, Lucas McCue, Coach Paul Beinke.