By LAUREN READ
The championship season is starting early for Champlain Valley Union.
The brand-new bass fishing team will represent the Redhawks in Saturday’s first-ever Vermont bass fishing state tournament, looking to earn some early fall-season glory.
The tournament will take place at Apple Bay Marina in South Hero from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“I have enjoyed taking kids out,” said Dan Conley, the CVU bass fishing coach.
Conley came on board in early September, after the Vermont Principals’ Association approved bass fishing as a high school sport in the summer.
The Hinesburg resident began setting up practice times at Lake Iroquois and getting kids out on the lake to learn how to fish from a boat. The CVU team competed for the first time just weeks later in the first VPA Bass Fishing Competition.
“Most of it for fishing is just getting out there,” Conley said. “If you want to be a competitive fisherman, you have to fish a lot.”
With four CVU anglers out on the lake during the competition, only one – Shagin Ardesh – caught a fish but his reaction sealed the deal for the first-year coach.
“It was the first time he had fished off on a boat and he caught a fish,” Conley said. “You could see the excitement on his face, he was hooked.”
Now Conley and his anglers are ready for the state tournament, though the trickiest part may be narrowing down who represents the Redhawks.
Each school only gets to field four anglers: two go out for a three-hour session in the morning with their coach; the other two follow for a three-hour session in the afternoon.
Each school will choose six fish from their catch to get weighed at the end of the day and whoever has the most weight wins the state title.
Shagin Ardesh, Colin Griesser and Hunter Whitman have already been chosen to represent CVU on Saturday. The fourth member of the group will be determined later this week.