A new generation of Grove anglers are stepping into the fishing world as the first students to become part of the Grove Fishing Team.

The anglers, which include Grove Middle and High School students, Grove Day Academy students, and Cleora Public School students, will join more than 100 teams of Oklahoma students on Saturday, March 31, to take part in the Oklahoma Bass Nation High School Fishing Championship.

The competition, which gets underway with take off at 7 a.m. at Wolf Creek Park, includes weigh-in at the Wolf Creek Park boat ramps at 3 p.m.

The fishing team, which began getting organized in the summer of 2017, is sanctioned by Grove High School officials, but is considered a stand-alone 501c3 entity. Students from area schools may join the team, if their towns/schools do not have a similar organization.

Melissa Dawes, a teacher at GHS, serves as the school liaison. She is also one of the group's officers. Josh Chandler serves as the coach for the team.

Board members include James Sharp, president, Robby Houseman, vice president, Marcie Hill, treasurer, Dawes, secretary, and Darrin Hill, at large.

Sponsors for the team include Southwinds Marina, Honey Creek Outdoors, Longan Asphalt Construction, Marcie Hill with Keller Williams Realty, Quantum Reels, and Trench Brothers. 

Chandler said the sponsors helped secure the jerseys for the team members. Parents help provide entry fees for each tournament. Parents and other anglers interested in promoting the sport provide the boats and serve as the drivers for each team - a requirement for the competition.

Kade Sharp serves as the middle school captain, while Cameron Haling is the high school captain. 

"We're a fishing community," Chandler said. "It's crazy we didn't have our own fishing team, when we have this big, beautiful lake."

Chandler and Dawes said it was important to give students an opportunity to compete in both the Bass Nation and FLW high school tournaments - for both the exposure to tournament fishing and for the chance to win scholarships.

"It's a win-win deal," Chandler said. "We hope it gets bigger. This is a partnership between the community and the school."

Chandler said Grove-area professional anglers, including Darrel Robertson and Sheldon Collings have spent time with the students, providing them information about the sport.

Students must be in eighth grade to take part in the team. Chandler said a large group of students, who will complete the seventh grade this spring, are ready to join "as soon as they get their grade card showing they are going into the eighth grade."

For Haling, being part of the fishing team gives him a chance to begin to prepare for a career as a collegiate and later, professional, angler.

Hunter Thomas, another high school angler, said he likes the chance to get out of a classroom setting into the outdoors. 

"I also like the competition," he said with a smile. "It's taught me to never give up, no matter how hard it is. You can go all day and catch two fish, or catch five, you never know."

In addition to his role as team captain, Haling is one of two Oklahoma anglers named to the All State team through Bass Nation. He has an opportunity to be one of this year's All American picks. 

"This gives us something to do, that not everybody can do," Haling said. 

Ultimately, Jackie Caudill said, the sport provides multiple lessons.

"It teaches me patience," he said, "something I'm not very good at, but still working on.

"It's relaxing to do after I get done working. I just like to be in the outdoors in general."

Several of the team members planned to pre-fish on Grand Lake beginning on Thursday morning, when the lake "opened back up" for the tournament. 

Several agreed, this weekend's conditions on Grand due to this week's rainfall, will be challenging.

"My grandpa always said 'when the cows are eating, the fish are biting, but when the cows aren't eating, the fish aren't bitting,'" Hunter said. "The cows haven't been eating a lot this week."

Meet the anglers

Members of the Grove Fishing Team include:

Cameron Haling and Seth Willis

Logan Poindexter and Hayden Williams

Hunter Thomas and Jackie Caudill

Gage Hill and Kade Sharp

Case Marsh and Nate Sauer

Clarissa Crockett and Cheyenne Mitchell

Jaydon Hill and Owen Williams

Jesse Woodward and John Glenn

Kyle McDowell and Gavin Thompson

More about the team

Cameron Haling

Parents: Melissa Dawes and Eric Haling

Haling has been fishing since he was a toddler. His favorite technique is deep cranking. He said fishing has taught him patience and dedication.

Seth Willis

Parents: Brett and Jennifer Willis

Fishing has taught Willis to be patient. He began fishing in the fifth grade. His favorite “go to” bait is Senko.

Logan Poindexter

Parents: Dex and Teresa Poindexter.

Fishing has taught Poindexter “patience and persistence.”

Hayden Williams

Parents: Jeff and Patricia Williams

Fishing has taught Williams to “keep grinding”. He said his favorite bait is a 4-inch Kaboom Curl tail by FleFly.

Hunter Thomas

Parents: Rocky Thomas Jr. and Melissa Nations

This is hunter and Jackie and keeper goin and never give up. No matter how hard it gets. When it rains it pours and my favorite bait is a Crankbait

Jackie Caudill

Parents: Melissa and Jimmy Caudill.

Fishing since he was a toddler, Caudill said he’s learned that fishing is not a sport that is easy, no matter how good you are. “You have to have more knowledge about where they are just as well as you can set a hook.” He said whenever he is stressed out, he tries to see if his dad will take him fishing because it helps relieve stress. His “go to” bait is a crank bait.

Gage Hill

Parents: Chris and Marcie Hill

His favorite bait is the Carolina Rig. He’s been competitive fishing since he was 8.

Kade Sharp

Parents: James and Toni Sharp

Sharp has been fishing for three years. His favorite bait is a jig.

Case Marsh

Parents: Holly and Lance Marsh.

Fishing has taught Marsh

My parents name if Lance and Holly Marsh! My partners name is Nate Sauer, and fishing has taught me teamwork because you definitely can't do this without a great partner.

Nate Sauer

Parents: Joann Howard and Jason Sauer

Sauer has been fishing since he was eight. His favorite “go to” bait is a Texas rigged eight-inch watermelon red curly-tailed worm.

“Fishing has fought me how to focus on one goal and solve problems to achieve it.”

Clarissa Crockett

Parents: Chris and Krystal Crockett

Fishing since she was 2, Crockett said her favorite “go to” bait is the Kevin VanDam Tournament spinner bait called the KVD Scorcher.

Cheyenne Mitchell

Parents: Craig and Ginger Mitchell

Mitchell has been fishing on her own for nine years. Her favorite bait is a spinner bait. “Fishing has taught me how to be versatile and adapt, in life everything is always changing its the same when you’re fishing.”

Jaydon Hill

Parents: Darrin and Angel Hill

Hill likes to fish top water and use an Alabama rig. “Fishing has taught me to never go without a rain suit.”

Owen Williams

Parents: Patricia and Jeff Williams

Williams said fishing has taught him to "never give up, even at the hardest times."

Jesse Woodward

Parents: Richie and Kim Woodward

Woodward said he’s been fishing since he could walk. His favorite “go to” bait is the Biffle Bug. “Fishing has taught me how to set goals and determination.”

John Glenn

Parents: Roger and Denise Glenn

An eighth grader at Cleora Public Schools, Glenn enjoys fishing, basketball and track.

Kyle McDowell

Parents: Misty and Tony Rutherford

McDowell has been fishing for about four years. Fishing has taught him “it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun.” It also helps him remember his grandpa. He is a student at Grove Country Day Academy.

Gavin Thompson

Parents: Chantel Thompson

Thompson has been fishing for as long as he can remember. His favorite bait is a Texas rigged craw lure. He loves to fish different patterns, because he “just loves to fish.” He is a student at Grove Country Day Academy. Thompson admits he would much rather fish, than be in school.

More about the team

Cameron Haling

Parents: Melissa Dawes and Eric Haling

Haling has been fishing since he was a toddler. His favorite technique is deep cranking. He said fishing has taught him patience and dedication.

Seth Willis

Parents: Brett and Jennifer Willis

Fishing has taught Willis to be patient. He began fishing in the fifth grade. His favorite “go to” bait is Senko.

Logan Poindexter

Parents: Dex and Teresa Poindexter.

Fishing has taught Poindexter “patience and persistence.”

Hayden Williams

Parents: Jeff and Patricia Williams

Fishing has taught Williams to “keep grinding”. He said his favorite bait is a 4-inch Kaboom Curl tail by FleFly.

Hunter Thomas

Parents: Rocky Thomas Jr. and Melissa Nations

This is hunter and Jackie and keeper goin and never give up. No matter how hard it gets. When it rains it pours and my favorite bait is a Crankbait

Jackie Caudill

Parents: Melissa and Jimmy Caudill.

Fishing since he was a toddler, Caudill said he’s learned that fishing is not a sport that is easy, no matter how good you are. “You have to have more knowledge about where they are just as well as you can set a hook.” He said whenever he is stressed out, he tries to see if his dad will take him fishing because it helps relieve stress. His “go to” bait is a crank bait.

Gage Hill

Parents: Chris and Marcie Hill

His favorite bait is the Carolina Rig. He’s been competitive fishing since he was 8.

Kade Sharp

Parents: James and Toni Sharp

Sharp has been fishing for three years. His favorite bait is a jig.

Case Marsh

Parents: Holly and Lance Marsh.

Fishing has taught Marsh

My parents name if Lance and Holly Marsh! My partners name is Nate Sauer, and fishing has taught me teamwork because you definitely can't do this without a great partner.

Nate Sauer

Parents: Joann Howard and Jason Sauer

Sauer has been fishing since he was eight. His favorite “go to” bait is a Texas rigged eight-inch watermelon red curly-tailed worm.

“Fishing has fought me how to focus on one goal and solve problems to achieve it.”

Clarissa Crockett

Parents: Chris and Krystal Crockett

Fishing since she was 2, Crockett said her favorite “go to” bait is the Kevin VanDam Tournament spinner bait called the KVD Scorcher.

Cheyenne Mitchell

Parents: Craig and Ginger Mitchell

Mitchell has been fishing on her own for nine years. Her favorite bait is a spinner bait. “Fishing has taught me how to be versatile and adapt, in life everything is always changing its the same when you’re fishing.”

Jaydon Hill

Parents: Darrin and Angel Hill

Hill likes to fish top water and use an Alabama rig. “Fishing has taught me to never go without a rain suit.”

Owen Williams

Parents: Patricia and Jeff Williams

Williams said fishing has taught him to "never give up, even at the hardest times."

Jesse Woodward

Parents: Richie and Kim Woodward

Woodward said he’s been fishing since he could walk. His favorite “go to” bait is the Biffle Bug. “Fishing has taught me how to set goals and determination.”

John Glenn

Parents: Roger and Denise Glenn

An eighth grader at Cleora Public Schools, Glenn enjoys fishing, basketball and track.

Kyle McDowell

Parents: Misty and Tony Rutherford

McDowell has been fishing for about four years. Fishing has taught him “it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun.” It also helps him remember his grandpa. He is a student at Grove Country Day Academy.

Gavin Thompson

Parents: Chantel Thompson

Thompson has been fishing for as long as he can remember. His favorite bait is a Texas rigged craw lure. He loves to fish different patterns, because he “just loves to fish.” He is a student at Grove Country Day Academy. Thompson admits he would much rather fish, than be in school.